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This Highlander is no Kurgan, that's for sure: a traditional cask aged dateless wonder with no birthday per se, but this single malt's got a nice hint of peat in there that is quite satisfying. It's sweet enough to please the ladies who would turn up their noses at the presence of charcoal, heavy leather, and medicinal-tasting tinctures that tickle the tongue.
No water added to my dram. Yes, a teaspoon would make absolve the slight burn, and no doubt change the flavor at bit, but I seem to like the way it burns just a little without any water at 46%. Most experts would add water for the tasting, but I'm too lazy. I'm sitting at my desk without water and I don't feel like getting up and walking two miles down the trail in the snow to the double cylinder hand pump well for a few teaspoons of water, and two miles back up the trail, in order to round out this review for you picky blokes ; )
THE REVIEW Rich natural color with no carmel added. Aged in a small cask for faster maturation and flavoring of the oak.
Scent of Bananas; nutmeg; vanilla bean; coconut; mild earthy peat; old leather saddle worn by the horse. Beneath it all, the peat and smoke every so slightly beckons: "drink me." With time the nose turns more leathery like Lagavulin.
Flavor of vanilla beans, strong tongue feel, peat goes nicely to your nose, pleasant burn, sweet honey, delightful malt, fresh cut oak, toffee. A faint smokey presence permeates the entire mouth feel, but not overpoweringly. With time, the mouth feel becomes less sweet.
As for flavor comparisons: No medicinal quality as in Laphroaig. No briquette charcoal presence as in Ardbeg. No dominant leather note as in Lagavulin. Rather, this Ardmore scotch blends sweet and smoky with the sweet as a more full bodied sweet rather than a cloying sweet as in many Speysides.
Finish is generous for the price; not overly long, but nice. Simple finish, not complex but pleasing with more vanilla bean, sea salt, toffee, and caramel. Time does not affect the finish. It remains dominated by vanilla beans and gets perhaps a bit longer after 25 minutes in the glass.
Pleasant taste left in the mouth after the finish. Would pair well with deserts featuring apples, pears, caramel, vanilla pudding or ice cream. A bit sweet to drink with dinner, however. Still, not overpoweringly sweet and the smokey undertone could pair perhaps with salmon or ham as the main course. Also, a nice drinking scotch for any time.
If leave a few drops in the bottle of your glass and drink them, the peat really comes through strong for some reason in those last few drops.
Price in Portland, Oregon, USA: $45 bottle. Not to be found in any bars hereabouts, unavailable for tasting. The bars and pubs have not caught up with this reasonably priced drinkable scotch yet. We are smarter than they are right now. Drink up, lads and lassies.
p.s. This scotch is not great for drink after drink after drink. I reach my limit at two glasses and then I switch to something a bit less sweet. But then again, I do like Caol Isa mixed with Talisker when I'll be having more than two.
Last night, I did indulge in three glasses (unusual for me) of the Ardmore TC and the last glass was markedly less enjoyable. Call it the "law of diminishing returns." Aye. Or so said the economist's side of me noggin.