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Yesterday I had the great fortune to attend an SMWS tasting here in Toronto. There was Balmenach, Bladnoch, Glen Moray, Glengoyne, Cooley, Ardbeg and Laphroaig - an embarrassment of riches. So today being Mother's Day - and Happy Mother's Day! - I thought I'd celebrate by digging out some old SMWS samples I never got around to writing up. And no, my mum wouldn't like these - she's a cheap white wine girl.
Ardmore is the backbone of Teacher's Highland Cream (a solid daily dram). The brand actually pre-dates the malt - Adam Teacher built Ardmore in 1898 to keep up with demand. For many years it was known as the smokiest Speyside malt, and was mostly used for blending. In 2005 it became part of Fortune Brands.
This was distilled on July 17 2002 and poured into a refill sherry butt. 10 yeas later it yielded 702 bottles.
The colour is a very dark copper. On the nose - big, fat and meaty. BBQ chicken sauce, chili chocolate, dark shoe polish, all with a trace of wood smoke. In fact, this is very BBQ smoky saucy. There is some sage in there. Damp moss. Rich and earthy, but with a very slight sulphur off-note. Water removes the wood smoke, unfortunately.
On the palate the BBQ sauce is tamed. Beyond the alcohol heat there is, well, salami, rum raisin, pipe tobacco and more wood smoke. Tawny port. Dark, worn leather. Smoked paprika. Hint of sulphur, but very meaty and satisfying. Where water reduces the nose, it improves the palate with more smoke and spice.
The finish is, again, meaty and rich, with papaya, grape leaves and bitter dark chocolate. If you want a sherry monster, you got a sherry monster. Myself, I'm iffy on my big sherried whiskies; this one has qualities that I like (meat, earth) and qualities that I don't like (burnt matchstick). Might go well with a cigar, though?