In July I had a review of an Ardmore 13, 2006 released by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that I was not terribly enthused about. Here now is an Ardmore 12, 2006 released by the SMWS that I am expecting to like a fair bit more. That’s because unlike the 13 yo—which was a red wine finish for some reason—this one is from a refill bourbon hogshead. Ardmore’s mineral peat and lemon notes should come out front and center. The operative word there is “should”. The fact that the SMWS named this one “Farm Salad” seems like a good sign but let’s see if things actually go as planned. Certainly the last SMWS refill hogshead Ardmore I reviewed was excellent as was the most recent Ardmore I reviewed back in early September. Both of those were a fair bit older, of course. But I’m keeping my hopes in check anyway: if being an American in 2020 has taught me anything it’s to not get my hopes up.
Ardmore 12, 2006 (57.9%; SMWS 66.133; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Mild, mildly farmy peat mixed in with lemon and salt. On the second sniff there’s a touch of rubber and some notes of organic decomposition (a big pile of leaves with maybe a small dead mouse at the bottom). A bit of ash mixed in with the farmy peat as it goes. Mellower with time with some sweeter notes of vanilla and cream mixed in with the peat which is now more mineral than farmy. With a few drops of water the lemon turns preserved and the wax from the palate pops out here as well.
Palate: Fairly typical Ardmore peat in that mineral/hot tarmac zone. Quite a bit of lemon here too. Very approachable despite the high strength and a good texture. I’m guessing water will open it up more but let’s give it a bit of air first. With time the citrus turns to lime peel and there’s a bit of wax as well. With more time the citrus and the mineral peat and the wax move into very nice balance. Okay, time to add some water. Ah yes, very nice: nothing new but everything becomes more expansive, if that makes sense.
Finish: Long. More of the hot tarmac mixed in with charcoal—gets quite bitter as it goes. With time the bitter charcoal starts giving way to cracked black pepper; some menthol too now. Water pushes the char and the pepper back quite a bit here and keeps the lemon from the nose going longer; a bit of ham brine too now. Turns ashy again at the end.
Comments: Well, yes, this bore out those hopes I hadn’t got up too high. (Someday soon I hope to hope again.) This is solidly pleasurable, medium-peated whisky of the old school. I liked it better with water. Not sure how much was asked for this but if not too much, I’d be happy to have a full bottle of it.
Rating: 87 points.