Today, I am continuing Scotchvember at Bargain Bourbon with a review of Ardmore Traditional Cask. Ardmore is a unique distillery because it hardly fits the flavor profile of its region. As I discussed in my review of some McClelland’s whiskies, each Scotch region tends towards a specific flavor profile. Ardmore is usually considered to be within the Speyside region of Scotland (even though Ardmore considers itself a “Highland Single Malt”). Speyside is the most popular Scotch region, known for soft, elegant, fruity, and malty whiskies. Speyside has the highest concentration of distilleries in Scotland, and the three most popular single malts in the world (Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, and The Macallan) all hail from Speyside. What sets Ardmore apart is that it is smoky and peaty, much more reminiscent of an Islay Scotch than it is of a Speysider.
Ardmore Traditional Cask is the standard entry-level offering from the distillery, and it is aged in ex-bourbon casks for about 6-8 years, and then finished in quarter casks (125 liters) for an extra period before aging. There is no age statement on the bottle, but most of the whisky in the bottle will be about 8 years old. If the process sounds similar to Laphroaig Quarter Cask, it is. In fact, both distilleries are owned by the same parent company, Beam Global. Ardmore Traditional Cask is non-chill filtered and bottled at 92 proof (46 % abv).
On the nose, this whisky has a medium peat backbone (not quite the dense peat of Laphroaig, for example), with a nice rounded sweetness in the form of honey and vanilla. The palate is medium-bodied and creamy with a lot of sweet flavors, like brown sugar, honey, and vanilla all wrapped up in a warming peat smoke. The finish is medium-long and fairly drying. There is a woody tannic bite that comes in on the finish, but those pleasant sweet flavors from the palate are still present. There is definitely a lot influence from the bourbon casks in this one, which is allowed to shine through a more gentle peat than in Ardbeg or Laphroaig.
Overall, Ardmore is a lighter, softer take on a peated whisky. It does drink a little young, but it is still a very pleasant pour. Ardmore offers new drinkers a great introduction to peated whisky without knocking all the wind out of your palate, nor is it an especially deep whisky. Despite its youth, Ardmore drinks well below its elevated proof point, making for a warming, yet delicate dram. My grade: B. Price: $25-30/750ml. At the price point, Ardmore Traditional Cask is a fantastic value whisky, well worth letting it ride on this peated Speysider.