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Ardmore SMWS 66.103 - A thing of rough beauty

SMWS Starter Kit - Part I of III

0 685

@talexanderReview by @talexander

1st May 2018

1

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    22
  • Balance
    21
  • Overall
    85

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I recently took the plunge and joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (I think I just got bored of seeing the same bottles on the LCBO shelves every time I dropped in). They send you a "starter kit" which includes a pin, book (which gives some genuinely interesting facts about both the SMWS and whisky, but is also too cutesy with factoids and old-tyme drawings throughout). It also includes three 100ml samples of three bottlings.

This Ardmore was distilled on May 15 2007, spending 9 years in a refill ex-bourbon barrel, yielding 208 bottles.

They're telling me the colour is a lemony gold, so let's go with that. On the nose we have almond skins, lemon pith, cardamom and light wafting smoke. Sea breeze. Like those Ricola cough drops: eucalyptus, lavender and medicinal. Wasabi. Band-Aids. Water adds some coastal brine and some floral notes. Interesting, but a bit too Vicks VapoRub for me.

Lemon curd on the palate, with some more smoke, anise and loads of spice: cayenne, lemon pepper and chili. Maltesers. Hint of dark chocolate. Slightly sticky-sweet mouthfeel. Surprisingly, not too hot despite the 60% ABV. Water makes it "stickier", with some malt and prickly spices. Mouth-watering and tasty, but borders on cloying, and the sweetness doesn't always jibe with the sharp-lemon-n-smoke notes.

The finish is more lemon pepper, with candied ginger and buttered croissants. A few years ago a reviewed an SMWS Ardmore, this one from 10 years in a refill sherry butt - very different of course but it had that smoky stickiness this one has (I used the words "BBQ sauce" a lot). This one is not bad - it's enjoyable to feel the brine, spice and sweetness mingling together, but a little goes a long way.

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6 comments

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

I'll be interested to get your thoughts as to whether or not you think the membership is worthwhile. I sense some underwhelmage in your review of this one.

You don't see many of their offering, or outturns as they call them, at much under $150. A whole lot of them are in the $2-300 range. I must admit, though, everything I have tasted courtesy of my two friends who are members, has been mighty good.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@BlueNote I've had some SMWS bottlings that I've really disliked, and many that I've really liked, but they've all been interesting. One of the worst was a Macallan that was the most unMacallan Macallan that has ever Macallaned. At the end of the day, at least I'll try some interesting stuff that I will have a more visceral reaction to, than the usual.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@talexander, any "genuinely interesting facts" that you'd care to pass on?

Do they make any claims to support or explain the reputation they seem to have for bottling better-than-average stuff? I've never had one of their whiskies, but I've always wondered whether they're just trading on some sort of unearned (or at least, stale) reputation for quality when really, aren't they just selling the same old rando single casks that every other IB is selling?

about one year ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@MadSingleMalt I don't remember offhand but just some neat stuff about wood, barley, production etc that I didn't know before. In terms of quality, yes I think it's one of the better IBs out there, along with G&M and Cadenhead's. I think their reputation is well earned; my only problem with them is they focus too much on single malt scotch, though that is their name so I guess they kinda have to...

about one year ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@talexander I think I read something about them getting into Bourbon and rye bottlings for their American branches.

about one year ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@BlueNote Yes, they do some bourbon and American single malt, as well as cognac, armagnac, rum and single malts from Japan, Wales and maybe elsewhere - but those are few and far between.

about one year ago 0

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