Ardmore 16, 1998 (Gordon & MacPhail for Binny’s)

Ardmore 16, 1998. Gordon & MacPhail for Binny's
Let there be rejoicing in the land: Binny’s is shipping again! Not to every state but, fortunately for me, the list includes a neighbouring state with a border town about an hour away in which a friend works. Accordingly, I organized a group split of eight of their current handpicked single malt casks. (You can see which the others are in this month’s “Coming Soon…” post.) Here first is this Ardmore which is one of the casks I was most interested in. The reason for this is that there isn’t a whole lot of Ardmore about in the US—minimal official releases and very few indies—and even fewer are from single sherry casks. As such this was an unusual proposition, hard to resist (and the risk underwritten by the fact that Binny’s generally picks very good casks). Let’s see if this story of hope has a good ending.

Ardmore 16, 1998 (55.5%; G&M for Binny’s; refill sherry hogshead 5587; from a bottle split)

Nose: Rubbery peat with some rotting, organic notes mixed in; some plastic too. Softens up with some air with first some creamy notes and then some fruit beginning to emerge (lime, apple, maybe a bit of peach). The rubbery/plastic notes dissipate with time leaving a mild, minerally smoky note. Water makes it mellower and creamier and then sweeter (the apple again).

Palate: Sweet to start with the minerally smoke coming rushing in behind. That plasticky note (almost grainy) follows, transitioning into bitter lime zest as it goes. Thick, oily texture. With some air the creamy note from the nose begins to appear, but there’s not a whole lot of it. With time and air it’s less bitter. Okay, let’s see what water does. Water makes it less bitter and more acidic; some white pepper too now.

Finish: Long. The mix of the bitter lime zest and the minerally smoke are dominant here but the sweetness is still palpable on the edges. Gets just a tiny bit soapy at the very end. Much brighter with water and more mentholated.

Comments: A very old-school peated Highland profile. The sherry character is quite muted, most notable in the dark colour of the whisky. Not sure it’s a great deal at the current price ($120) but it’s not a profile that’s easily found these days. If you not familiar with the style, probably best to try before you buy (if possible).

Rating: 86 points.

11 thoughts on “Ardmore 16, 1998 (Gordon & MacPhail for Binny’s)

    • Indeed. I liked it a little more. Despite finding the 50ml sample of 2007 Lagavulin 21yr offensive (burnt plastic, sulfur, rubber, tires), I don’t think I’m sensitive to sulfur (as I’ve never experienced the same sensation before/since). I need to revisit my sample, if any is left, but I found the Ardmore to be peaty and sherry’d, but with not sulfuric influences. I’d say you hit the nailast on the head wit your “old-school peated Highland profile”…and that’s what I love about this whisky. I have little-to-no experience with Ardmore, so take my critique with a grain of salt, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

      Should we split the Whisky-Online Ardmore? :)

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      • I didn’t get any sulphur here: plastic but not burnt plastic, and it dissipated quickly anyway. I always say that if the notes track or appeal then you shouldn’t bother too much with the scores. And I also always say that my scores should be viewed as being in a +/-3 continuum. Anyway, I’ll come back to this one a number of times as I’m holding on to most of this bottle.

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    • I need to see if I have any of my sample left. I remember liking this one quite a bit when I tried it. In fact, I’ll be buying a bottle if it goes back on sale. I haven’t had many Ardmore before, but I thought this one was interesting.

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