The old distillers and blenders knew a thing or two, especially when it came to picking the site for a distillery. Adam Teacher selected the location for Ardmore in 1898, thereby taking advantage of the local abundance of peat and barley alongside a new arrival in the form of the Northern railway line.
Ardmore like so many other distilleries in this region and Speyside beyond, utilised the railway to ship their goods south to the blenders of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Bulk transportation had suddenly become more efficient, affordable and accessible. Countless distilleries sprung up alongside train tracks including Tamdhu with its ornate platform station, or in the case of Balblair moving slightly to sit alongside the line.
For a large proportion of its existence, Ardmore had been linked closely with the Teacher’s blended whiskies. In fact, it was a vital component of the recipe offering a balance of peat with robust characteristics or producing an unpeated malt called Ardlair exclusively for blending. Unlike many Scottish distilleries, it’s never turned away from using peat in its bottlings such as the excellent 20 year old Ardmore and stuck with this natural resource when many others had moved away from the original Scottish style. It’s not a heavily peated malt – although sometimes the odd batch may come across more robustly – tending to be around 10-15 Phenol Parts per Million (PPM), which places it around the Springbank level and just below Bowmore and Highland Park. You can read more about the distillery with our Gordon & MacPhail 1998 Ardmore review.
Whenever I think of Ardmore nowadays what comes to mind is value. It’s a rare commodity nowadays but with the recent London tastings I hosted, a theme was clearly you can find value in whisky still. Of the 12 bottles over 2 nights, the most expensive was around £90 and the cheapest around £40. Within this price bracket, you can have a great deal of fun and exploration with whiskies across the world. The winners I’d say were those who attended whether it was seasoned whisky drinkers or those at their first tasting. Lots of questions and a thirst for knowledge. Great nights, we’ll do more in 2018.
Meanwhile, we’re with this Càrn Mòr Strictly Limited that represents their value entry level range. As with all their releases I just love the age statement. Yes, its young but whiskies can surprise you when they’re ready. Also vatting of casks together prior to bottling often creates harmony and a more detailed experience. My thanks to Robert Graham for the sample. Càrn Mòr has bottled a couple of young Ardmore’s over the years so you shouldn’t have too much problem finding a bottle and for under £40 you’ve got that touch of peat with a drinkable whisky.
Càrn Mòr Strictly Limited Ardmore 2011 – review
Colour: pebble dash.
On the nose: a gentle vegetative peat followed by lemon and rock candy. It’s fairly simple but enjoyable nevertheless with popcorn and barbequed vanilla marshmallows.
In the mouth: more power on the palate which is what you’d expect from a youthful peat. Vegetative yes, but more kindling and shrubbery. Just a delicate touch of salt as well followed by smoked almonds, lemon icing and a light fragrant vanilla. On the finish an ashy medicinal element comes through nicely.
I’d quite happily purchase a bottle of this as an everyday drammer with that touch of peat. It does the job and proves at 5 years old Ardmore is a great option. Plus it’s not break-the-bank stuff and leaves your wallet intact to splash out on something else – and there’s always something else on the whisky horizon.
Image kindly provided by The Green Welly Stop.