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Review: Ardmore 30 year old

May 26th, 2009

Ardmore, 30 year old, 53.7%, $450
The oldest Ardmore I have tasted. Smartly bottled at cask-strength and not chill filtered. (The entry level Ardmore “Traditional” is bookended at the opposite end of the age spectrum, tasting quite youthful.) My initial concern with this 30 year old was: would the wood dominate the lovely floral smoky notes I enjoy so much with Ardmore? The wood is certainly present, but the smoke still comes through. Complimenting the smoke, there’s gently layered sweetness (toffee, deep caramel, subtle honey), licorice root, bourbon barrel char, coffee grounds, high cocoa chocolate, with subtle dried citrus and a suggestion of floral soap. Dry finish, with more bourbon barrel char and licorice root. Considering that Ardmore has historically been a blending malt, most of the stocks right now are much younger. This is a rare treat. It’s just a wee bit thin in body and a little on the dry side from 30 years on wood for me to rate it in the mid 90s, but it’s still a very enjoyable whisky.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90

4 Responses to “Review: Ardmore 30 year old”

  1. John Hansell says:

    I also wanted to note that my favorite Ardmore is the 12 year old bottling released for Ardmore’s 100th Anniversary about 10 years ago. If you every see this anywhere, buy it! It’s one of my favorite 12 year olds.

  2. Harvey Fry says:

    i too am very high on Ardmore. in my often adjusted rankings of Scottish distilleries it comes in near the top of the second 10.

    the 12 & 21 year old Centenary bottlings were quite (my notes= both mid 80s) nice &, back then, outside of an amazingly still available (RMW, 31 GBP, ex-vat.) Gordon & Macphail 16 year old from ’91,
    a 15 + an 18 year old (no vintage) James Macarthur’s & a few Cadenhead’s from
    ’77, the only way to get to know the make.

    now, we’re much more fortunate. the new
    Traditional Cask (46.%, unchillfiltered)
    is reasonably priced/widely distributed &
    we’ve had similarly diluted/improved items
    (Whisky Galore, Murray McDavid & at least
    4 Signatory uncf. bottlings from ’92, +, etc.). value for money, the Traditional is large!

    even better, independent cask strength expressions= 3 each from SMWS-A (just for USA), Gordon & Macphail & Signatory + others from Scott Selections, Single Malts of Scotland (TWE) & on & on. also, at
    their “preferred strength of 50.%”, don’t forget OMC. my favorite so far is the most recent Society release, their number 66.23= a 21 year old from ’85, bottled ’07 at 53.9%. i made it a 24-24-23-23= 94.
    but, maybe the most important thing about
    this almost isolated eastern distillery
    is the consistency of the quality of its
    make. of the dozen or so cask strength
    independent bottlings of Ardmore in my
    collection, not a single one of them has
    ever (in tastings at my house) scored below 84! & of the diluted expressions
    all have come in above 80. few others
    have done this well.

    hopefully, in Omaha this August or in
    Spokane next January, i’ll be able to try
    the new 30 year old. meanwhile, that
    much money will buy a lot of very good Ardmores.

    until i own/have tasted at least ten (5
    cask strength) expressions from an open distillery, i usually hold off trying to
    rank it. i’ve been lucky enough to come
    by some 20 Ardmores since the Centenary &
    almost all of them are/have been as good
    or (often) better than those (now) hard
    to find/way too expensive (overpriced)
    collector’s releases. well, as they’ve
    said, i’m very much a collector from the
    bottom up, rather than the top down.

    about the only significant gap remaining in our Ardmore experience would be nicely filled with a 10 to 18 year old (say 20
    or so selected casks expertly vatted by
    the Teacher’s man) cask strength official bottling. better still a 10 & an 18!
    life is/was good in the whisky boom^

  3. Thanks, John, for this. I’ve been looking forward to reading your thoughts since you first said you would receive a sample. Still trying to decide whether I’ll add the 30 yo to my collection, but your rating sure helps.

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