I started November with a review of an Ardmore released by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Here now to start December is another Ardmore released by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This is my 6th Ardmore review of the year—taking my total to a measly 15 (Serge reviews as many every Wednesday between a dozen 1972 Boras and 33 Springbanks from the 1960s). I am hopeful that 2021 will bring at least as many Ardmores my way, if not more. They’re not very thick on the ground in the US though. This one is a full decade older than last month’s SMWS cask, having been distilled in 1997 and bottled only this year (I think). I really liked that 12 year old and like that one this too is from a refill bourbon hogshead. Good things usually happen when you put whisky in refill casks and very good things seem to happen to Ardmore’s whisky when put in refill bourbon casks. Let’s see if this whisky proves that would-be axiom right.
Ardmore 22, 1997 (51.6%; SMWS; refill bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Starts out meaty and sweet with notes of smoked ham mixed with vanilla and malt. On the second sniff there’s a fair bit of salt and also citrus (lemon turning quickly to citronella). Some wet stones shade the sweetness of the vanilla. The malt turns into cereals as it sits. With more time the citrus is ascendant with mineral smoke playing through it. A few drops of water balance the elements, pulling out more of the smoked meat and cereals.
Palate: Leads with the lemon and the smoke which starts out mild here as well but then turns quite heavily charred as I swallow. Very nice texture at full strength and very approachable. The fruit gets muskier as it sits with hints of makrut lime and some charred pineapple. The char keeps expanding as well, turning a bit bitter (a faint soapy note emerges as well). Okay, let’s see what water does. It provides balance here too except now it’s the char that gets pushed back and the citrus that expands.
Finish: Long. The char goes on for a while, getting quite peppery as it goes. Some sweeter notes of vanilla emerge as well after a bit. As on the palate with water at first; the smoked meat emerges here too at the end now.
Rating: 89 points.