Yes, it’s another youthful Ardmore under the review microscope today. Rather than engage in a recollection of Teacher’s Highland Cream or the history to this distillery, it’s time to talk about bottles.
This Claxton’s single cask release has been in my possession for some time now as it was purchased for a London tasting held in February, where we were exploring the cask itself. The unique aspect of this offering was that Ardmore’s peated Highland spirit was deposited into an ex-Laphroaig cask. Thereby bringing together a marriage of 2 peat styles and seeing what developed over the subsequent 8 years. Except my overriding memory of the evening when it came to this release was the design of the bottle. The contents had to be decanted into a more regular size to enable an accurately measured pour.
The rectangular design is chunky and you can appreciate the purpose behind such a concept. It dominates the shelf and commands more room than your standard equivalent. Of course, it looks better with a flower sticking out of it or some form of perfume rather than whisky. Yet to write off a whisky based on its bottle is a haphazard approach. A journey through the whisky chronicles will confirm that many a great whisky has been delivered in an ugly bottle and vice versa. First impressions may count for something amongst the Instagram crowd but the true enthusiast knows to dig a little deeper.
This Claxton’s bottling was released in 2017, at a strength of 55.1% and with an outturn of 299 bottles. Originally this was around £55 before selling out promptly when word of the Laphroaig cask hit the streets. Hence my selection of this whisky for a recent tasting in London. With the theme of casks being handed out this could have been a tiresome parade of this is a sherry cask, this is a wine cask etc. etc. Tiresome and no fun for attendees or the organisers. Instead this whisky allowed us to showcase the influence of a cask from another distillery and the impact it had upon the spirit in terms of full maturation.
Then you have the juxtaposition of 2 different types of peat within this recipe. The coastal nature of Islay versus the more Highland and earthy Ardmore spirit. Would these 2 styles cancel each other out or would a particular exponent dominate the other? Or more interestingly would they amplify one another and create something new and exciting? We’ll find out right now… I’m joined by Noortje to give a double opinion as she’s cast aside those Jenga bricks and raided the family liquor cabinet for a wee dram.
Claxton’s Ardmore 2008 8 year old – review
Jason’s tasting notes
Colour: a morning haze.
On the nose: crushed walnuts, an earthy peat but also a noticeable saltiness almost salted peanuts. A little varnish, dirty vanilla, pine cones and deep down a touch of strawberry. Returning, there’s candy floss and a touch of washing up liquid.
In the mouth: oily and a lovely texture. Huge Islay coastal notes and still that earthiness of Ardmore comes through. A lovely hybrid of flavours with vegetative scrub, autumnal notes and an abundance of ash before a drying finish.
Noortje’s tasting notes
Colour: White wine.
On the nose: A bit malty and a nice layer of peat. Very citrusy in the beginning. There’s some vanilla sweetness. Some grassy notes too. It’s not very outspoken, but nice. With water: Almost the same, but less peat and it is a bit fresher.
In the mouth: The peat is here again. Some vanilla. It’s a bit rough and sharp. Then some citrus and a slightly bitter note. And a bit salty as well. With water: Sweeter, more vanilla. The finish is mid-long with some salt and a feint hint of menthol. Quite peppery too.
Jason: An excellent choice for the tasting – give that man a medal – and a real hefty influence from the Laphroaig cask. Perhaps more than you would envisage on paper, but it’s working its magic arguably to greater effect than Laphroaig’s constantly disappointing official releases. Ultimately this is a great value release from Claxton’s despite the bottle shape. Although I’ll take a terrible bottle and/or label every time if the contents deliver like this Ardmore for the asking price.
Noortje: It feels somewhat youngish. And the taste is just a little too rough and sharp for me. Water helps a bit. It isn’t bad, although I expected a bit more of it. Good nose though.