Ardmore 21, 1997 (SMWS 66.146)

Ardmore 1997 week continues with another refill bourbon hogshead bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I really liked Monday’s 20 yo which displayed a lovely mix of rich fruit, char and mineral notes. Will this one, which is a year older, be as good or better? Let’s see.

Ardmore 21, 1997 (51.9%; SMWS 66.146; refill bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Comes in with more lime and less mineral peat than the 21 yo and there’s some cream here as well; some ham brine too. As it sits the mineral note expands and it gets more peppery; the fruit is less expansive though than in the younger cask. With time muskier fruit begins to peep out. Let’s see if water releases it more fully. Well, the citrus expands and turns to citronella but the hints of muskier fruit remain just that.

Palate: Lime and peppery peat lead the way here. Doesn’t feel as hot at full strength and the texture is rich. Wet stones on the second sip and a slightly acrid quality to the smoke (leaves, cigarette ash). No greater fruit here than on the palate and that stays pretty constant with time. As on the nose, water does not unleash greater fruit; instead it expands the wet stone note, bringing some chalk out as well (limestone?).

Finish: Medium-long. The char pops out on the finish. With time the lime pops out again at the end and lingers and the finish as a whole gets longer. As on the palate with water.

Comments: This is a very good whisky but a bit of a step-back from the 20 yo. This is because of both the comparative lack of fruit and a more general lack of complexity. The pleasures here are more direct and more austere. That might appeal to you more—and might appeal to me more, for that matter, if not tasting in close proximity to the younger cask. Okay, on to the 22 yo!

Rating: 86 points.



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