I’m one of those folk who tend to watch the pocket, perhaps a rather financially frugal upbringing installed some sort of deep conditioning to always think before I buy? That is not to say that I don’t want to run around like some crazed millionaire and pick up every bottle of whisky I can… and believe me, if I won the lottery, I would!
But today if I’m going to pick up a whisky I will be considerate in my purchase. I’ll look around the physical high street stores, I’ll do my due diligence and search the online specialist retailers; yes, the economically-minded section of the old grey matter kicks in. So, if I can save a wee bit of cash here or there, then I’ll do it; it also means the kids can get toys and food can go on the table.
I am not too much of a whisky snob to not visit supermarkets, I think I’ve shown in other articles that I will happily pop down to my local Tesco and pick up a bottle of Glen Moray Elgin Classic at £19 and more than enjoy sipping away at it. In fact, there is a bottle of that open in the dining room right now. Supermarket whisky is for many where they start their journey; they pop down and pick up something relatively cheap that perhaps they will enjoy. But, if the purchase leads to a less than favourable outcome then at least the loss to the wallet is not too big.
For others, the supermarket is the place where the in-laws or a work colleague has picked up that “thoughtful” gift. For me, the supermarket is my readily available “kid in a candy store” Friday thing. I did it as a child, and still today I do it with my own kids. We would have a limited amount of cash given to us by our parents; my brother and I would spend an age looking at the sweets on the shelves and calculating the best approach to get the most for the least out of pocket. The money saved would then go toward “bigger” purchases.
Today I do this in the supermarket, but with whiskey instead of sweets. If buying the rather enjoyable Loch Lomond 10 Year old for £25 means that I now have an extra £15 at the end of the month which can go toward picking up a bottle of Ardnamurchan Madeira Cask, then that’s how I approach it.
I also look at these supermarket whiskies as my educational supplies. Would you give a whisky new comer a cask strength peated hit in their first glass? Personally, no; my approach is to build a palate up, to educate the taste buds and nasal receptors as well as the mind. I remember a master blender (but forget which one) telling me that one of their favourite drams was Glenfiddich 12. To them it was a fantastic “base” whisky; by starting with that dram you will always have a reference point to base your understanding of other whiskies. I’ve always held that as a “rule of thumb,” and that allows me to see supermarket whisky as more than just a cheap release.
Now, that being said: I’m not here writing this and describing everything that appears on a shelf in Tesco or ASDA as being some glass bottled toilet cleaner (although I have heard some described as such). Far from it; I have picked up some amazingly good whisky from those shelves. My last article looked at Bunnahabhain Stiùireadair. I can’t think of anything I’ve read that knocks that bottle, yet I’ll pick it up for around £30 off the shelf. Who would moan if I poured them a Loch Lomond peated single grain? Very fe,w and it was £22 last time I picked it up.
That brings me to the bottle I’m going to look at today. I can go and walk to my local store and put it in the shopping cart for £20! It’s a peated, non-age stated dram coming at you at 40% ABV.
The Ardmore Legacy – Review
Colour: Light gold.
On the nose: Bright and young, the maturation in ex-bourbon American white oak and for me this gives an edge of orchard fruit on the nose of this dram, but being peated is really the story of the nose. This nose is a wee bit of a charred embers, ashy firepit, not overpowering in any way, but it’s the headlining element of the nose.
In the mouth: The fruits I gauged on the nose, are, for me, not present on the palate, but there is a definite sweetness in the mouth. Slightly honey-like, with a touch of vanilla, the charcoal smoke is present as tasting note, and – whilst not medicinal like some peat, it is there- is perhaps lending itself more to a welcoming wave rather than an all-encompassing smoke screen from a battleship. Medium finish, with a decent smooth mouthfeel; perhaps that apple makes a wee appearance here; subtle spicy smoke… an edge of citrus!
OK, for somewhere in the region of £25 (depending on where you pick this up), this dram is not bad, but by no stretch of the imagination can I rate this as an amazingly good supermarket sipper. I think it has a place… and it has a place on my shelf. Recently, when I want a wee hit of a peaty whisky that doesn’t stop me in my tracks and allows me to maybe still concentrate on writing (about whisky), and is replaceable rather regularly without taking too much from my pocket that is perhaps destined for other bottles, then yes: I can honestly say I would replace this and have it on my shelf. As I work on my friend Mark and lead him astray into the dark world of peat, then this non-complex, welcoming wave of smoke might just help me.
Lead image courtesy of The Ardmore.