Thanks to /u/devoz for this dram.
What was the occasion: No amount of high anxiety, painful recuperation of an undiagnosed fracture, or really anything else beyond a global pandemic is going to keep me from our year-end review. Our first in three years. So yeah, I’m there, I’m in pain, part way through I self medicated with some THC and stopped reviewing after that.
So I may be meaner than normal, or I may be happier than normal because I got to see my friends for the first time in a long time. Let’s see!
What whisky did we review? Ardlair 11 2010 A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, a single cask from the Ardmore distillery that was independently bottled by A.D. Rattray. It’s not like a normal Ardmore, because it’s not peated. It has to do with the time of year the whisky is made, Teacher’s whisky not wanting to rely on Islay peated whisky in 1989 for their blends, and your horoscope from a video game you played as a kid (okay, maybe not that last one).
Another “ex-Oak cask” because we still haven’t figured out that we should hire someone at a distillery to make a list of casks used, maybe using Excel. Or don’t, it’s not like we give a shit about which cask is being used and enjoy picking things apart. Just throw some brown water at us and tell us to shut up.
Oh, and it’s cask strength.
What’s the distillery? It’s Ardmore, but this isn’t the Ardmore you’re used too, unless you’ve been drinking only Ardmore Legacy, then… It’s close?
Ardmore makes a lot of whisky. A bunch of it goes into Teacher’s whisky, a bunch gets released by itself, and a bunch gets sold to independent bottlers.
When the company, which makes the vast amount of money from blends, needs unpeated whisky, they put in an order, that order goes through, most of it meets the needs, and anything that doesn’t meet those needs either gets sold to other blenders or to an Independent bottler.
What’s my bias? I’ve been wanting to try an Ardlair for about two years now, and the only one that came close to me sold out in seconds. I saw someone post they were sent a mystery Highland Park that was worth more and better reviewed then the one they ordered and I got sympathetically angry for no reason.
So yeah, I’m hyped right up for this, because I buy Ardmore a lot and this is weird and also I really, really like the whiskies that A.D. Rattray.
But am I right? Rarely. But was I right about this whisky in this case? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $125.00 CAD
Region: Speyside (yes, I know the bottle says Highland but for years I’ve been writing Ardmore as Speyside and we’re stuck here)
Distilled: September 22, 2010
Bottled: March 7, 2022
Cask number: 800145
Outrun: 217 bottles
Colour: 5Y 9/3
Nose: Grassy, tropical fruit gum, canned peaches, caramel, popcorn
Weird. My brain knows this is Ardmore, but it smells all fruity and really grassy and no peat. It’s very fruity. Peat couldn’t be farther from my mind.
Fruity, buttery, and grassy. Interesting. Maybe I can see why not many of these get out, given it’s not a peat storm. Think closer to a random Highland versus what we associate with “the norm”.
Oh, and goes without saying, but better than Legacy. We can just leave that here as a placeholder.
Taste: Anise, sharp cherry, pineapple, plum
Fruit, fruit, and anise. Part of me, the part that craves sugar because my brain decided the same set of skills on the savannah should work for modern life, is happy. It’s acidic, rich, and has tangy aspects.
The other part, the part that I let out for modern day to day life so I wear pants when required, notes that it’s all fruit and a bit of spice. A strong spice, to be sure, but not really enough to be complex.
The joke aside, it’s fruity, but there’s a lack of balance here, and a lack of complexity compared to the nose.
Finish: Cocoa, molasses, carrot, cloves, grass
Earthy, sulfur (hmm, maybe it was a sherry cask), sweet, and spice. All fruit is gone, and we’re left with those flavours that would have benefitted from fruit.
In curling you end up working on one aspect of your delivery, only to ignore other aspects. This whisky does that. I like the finish better, but damn dude, we took one hell of a left turn.
Conclusion: Very fruity. Well, very fruity until the end. It’s quite odd. I have no distillery profile to compare to, so I’ll take the whisky as it stands:
It’s weird enough that whisky nerds would want it to pour for each other. It’s like having limeade for the first time and realizing you like it along with lemonade. Wait, too similar… It’s like trying gelato and then realizing lemonade is still good.
No, I didn’t hit my head when I broke my leg, why do you ask?
Should you try this Ardlair? Yes, it’s weird and fun and tasty and fruity. The nose is very nice. It’s what I wanted for the rest. Then the taste and finish divorces and splits the kids among two houses. That’s how divorce works, right? I grew up happy I don’t know.
Should you try Ardlair in general? I don’t know yet. If they are all like this, then I’m in. If you’re in love with the peat in Ardmore and want more? No, what are you, new?
Scotch review #1615, Speyside review #464, Whisky Network review #2342