Ardmore 13, 1990 (G&M)

I said I’d have a brace of Ardmores this week but let’s make it three in a row. This one is the most useless review of the lot, being an independent release that came out well before yesterday’s Traditional and Friday’s Archives 20 yo. I don’t think I’d even heard of the distillery when this was released. Like the Archives this is from a bourbon cask, though it’s a fair bit younger. My sample came to me from Ardmore-enthusiast, Michael Kravitz (his review is here).

I don’t have any Ardmore patter left after the last two reviews and so let’s get right to it.

Ardmore 13, 1990 (58.6%; Gordon & MacPhail; refill bourbon hogshead 12275; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: Creamy at first whiff but then there’s white pepper, prickly peat (not phenolic) and mothballs. Very nice indeed. A drop of water brings out more of the mothballs. 

Palate: Sweet arrival but also a slightly hot arrival. All the stuff from the nose plus some wet wool. Nice texture. The alcohol bite dissipates as it sits and now there’s a hint of lime as well. With more time it’s sweeter and the sweetness is mixed nicely with the peppery peat. More lime with water and also a slightly meaty note (ham brine).

Finish: Long. The smoke is strongest here as it gets sootier as it goes. As on the palate with water.

Comments: This is old-school minerally, earthy, mildly-peated whisky and it is very good. No fireworks, no big fruit, no peat blast, just flawless whisky of a type you don’t really see much of any more (and usually from Campbeltown when you do). I like a good peat monster as much as the next idiot but I do wish more people would clamour for this kind of mellow peated whisky.

Rating: 88 points.

Thanks to Michael K. for the sample!

One thought on “Ardmore 13, 1990 (G&M)

  1. I share your enthusiasm for smoky balance in malt whiskies. Ardmore, along with the likes of Highland Park, Bowmore and Talisker, as well as Benromach, use a judicious amount of peat to lend character without dominating, and I think this makes for far more interesting whiskies as you encounter them through their maturations. I have noticed an extra emphasis on smoke in more recent HP releases (at least from tasting notes) so perhaps that is a worrying trend.
    It’s also something I’ve found with the 70s Ardbegs I’ve tried: what strikes you is not solely the peat, but rather the way in which the smoke has numerous facets to it, from sweet to savoury, and has harmonised with the spirit’s other abundant flavours.
    I feel distillation strategy has a lot to do with what layers, contrasts and depth are built into whiskies, especially their peaty character. Ardmore’s direct firing of stills in this era would perhaps account for why the peat in this 1990 example satisfies yet never overwhelms.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.