In my last review of an Ardmore I noted that it was a hard distillery to get to know. No further clarity has emerged on that front since that review and so let’s dispense with an introduction to this review and get to business sharpish. I will note only that this is not the first Ardmore from the 1980s I’ve tried and that while I liked that 25 yo fine, it wasn’t anything so very special. In fact I didn’t like it as much as that last Ardmore I reviewed, which was a 22 yo from the mid-1990s. Where will this 24 yo, bottled by the SMWS in 2009, fall? Let’s see.
Ardmore 24, 1985 (52.5%*; SMWS 66.30, “An outdoor banquet”; bourbon hogshead; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Typical Ardmore smoke, sooty and mineral (not phenolic), mixed in with lime zest and some brine. As it sits there’s a hint of vanilla and the citrus moves in the direction of citronella. Brighter and brinier with a few drops of water.
Palate: Comes in sweeter before the lime zest hits. Behind that is some peppery olive oil and the salt. Lovely oily texture. With time the lime zest is the top note here, shaded by some peppery smoke. A bit sweeter with water (wet stones, apple).
Finish: Medium. The lime zest expands and picks up a lot of cracked pepper as it goes. The soot returns at the end. Sweeter and longer lasting with water.
Comments: An old-school austere profile. Doesn’t quite have the fruit of the recent Ardmore 22 but is very good indeed in its more understated. Same score, I think, even though I deployed fewer words here..
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Teemu S. for the sample.
*The abv listed on the sample label is incorrect.