Last week was a week of reviews of peated whiskies from Islay—one each from Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. I liked them all a lot. This week will be a week of reviews of whiskies from the highlands. We’ll begin with a young Ardmore that also keeps the peat theme going for a little longer. This is yet another Ardmore from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society—probably the most consistent source of Ardmore casks in the US. I’ve reviewed a number of their Ardmore releases before, most recently this 23 yo which I adored, and before that a trio comprising a 20 yo, a 21 yo and a 22 yo, all of which I really liked as well. This one is quite a bit younger at 12 years of age—though in today’s single malt market 12 years old sometimes seems positively middle aged. Will it approach the quality of its older siblings? Oh yes, the SMWS’ tasting panel gave this the whimsical name, “Hickory smoked lobster”. I can’t say I’ve had smoked lobster but it does sound good—any relation to the reality of what’s in the glass? Let’s see.
Ardmore 12, 2006 (57.5%; SMWS 66.140; refill bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Mild wood smoke interlaced with musky fruit (lime peel, charred pineapple) and light mineral accents. Gets sweeter as it sits and picks up some dusty oak. With time and water the smoke and oak recede a bit and the fruit expands a bit.
Palate: Hmm doesn’t make the best first impression here: cardboard with sour leafy smoke running through it. Approachable at full strength and the texture is rich. More lime on the second sip and some aspirin but it’s the sour smoke and salt that make the biggest impression. Not too much change with time—though the cardboard does recede a bit. Let’s see if water improves things further. A little, yes. The cardboard is gone and it’s less sour and more spicy.
Finish: Long. Salty and mildly smoky. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Hickory smoked lobster? More like the dregs of an old packet of barbecue potato chips. That’s on the palate, neat. I can’t say I got any hickory smoked lobster on the nose but I liked it there a lot more neat and with water, and the palate picked up a bit with water too. If I had a bottle I’d keep experimenting with water—but on the basis of this sample I’m not regretting that I don’t have a bottle—especially for the price that would have been asked for it.
Rating: 84 points. (Pulled up by the nose.)