Thanks to /u/Catharticintent for this sample
This is a continuation of my ongoing series that I’m calling “Scotch Malts, Wife’s Selection”, in which my wife goes through my backlog of SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) samples that I haven’t reviewed yet, pours them blind, and then I review it blind.
As I’ve said in my previous review, one of the main twists of this blind line of whiskies is the amount of Ledaig and Ardmores in it.
Adding to that, some of the Ardmores aren’t just typical ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks. These aren’t following the ideas set out by Ardmore, of which I’ve had ex-bourbon or ex-port casks, or non-peated ex-bourbon.
Which brings us to Ardmore SMWS 66.65 “Holy smoke!”, a whisky that was aged in a 1st fill ex-white wine hogshead. So it’s a peated Speyside (you know, those things we see everyday) that’s aged in a rarer cask. Oh, and all a single cask, so it may differ (and probably does) from the main flavour profile.
Suffice to say, I’m more lost here than twelve blind dogs at a manure festival. So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distilled: October 2004
Age: 10 years
Cask Type: 1st fill white wine hogshead
Colour: 10YR 7/10
Nose: Butterscotch, carrot cake, violets/zucchini, chocolate smoke
Water brings out more smoke. Without it, it’s all butterscotch, floral, and carrot cake.
Again, a white wine cask gives me that sherry element of rich brown sugars. Any smoke that comes out has a twinge of chocolate, again something that normally happens after many years or after being in sherry.
Thus I’m lost and any guess I give is now silly.
Taste: Black pepper, violet, grassy, applewood smoke, apple cider, Smarties
Initial taste is quite rough, and needs time to really even out. Again, reminds me of a Dalmore aspects with the alcohol heavy flavour.
Water makes more spice, more apple, and more sweetness pop out. Which if kids knew how to do, they’d never sit still.
Finish: Heather, lemonade, orange pekoe, ginger, potato, Starburst
So here’s where things get complicated. One of the main things I’ve learned in the last year is the taste of smoke can easily be confused with the taste of heather. And in this case, that heather is pretty evident. At least to me.
So there’s this tannic, orange note, there’s some rough earth elements, and again, sugar candies pop up the second water hits it. Really an odd finish.
Conclusion: White wine casks are wack, yo. Seriously, I’m into it but they are crazy. There’s a sherry element, some spice, an earth aspect (here at least) and some sweets.
We can assume that the earth comes from the dram/peat, however this is a weird one. Really weird. I’m giving it my standard “it’s weird, I still don’t know if I like it” (aka the “I’ve been searching the scary parts of the Internet and hope this doesn’t awaken anything in me”) score.
It’s a try before you buy, again. This may be lovely to some, it may be not so for others. Hard to pin down. Unique, sweet, and odd.
Guess: Some odd type of Dalmore with more ex-bourbon in it?
Actually: Ardmore SMWS 66.65 “Holy smoke!”
Scotch review #811, Speyside review #234, Whisky Network review #1322