Peat in the Highlands: Ardmore Traditional Cask

Finally getting around to reviewing the Ardmore Traditional Cask. Like Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask, this one, too, is aged for a short period in traditional quarter casks. Like Laphroiag, it is a good’un, but not that good. For the price, it pretty much can’t be beat, though. It has taken me so long to write up a review because this bottle became my office bottle, and as I’m not in my office until the late dramming hours all too often, I rarely afford myself the chance to open the bottle. Each time I do, however, I am reminded about what a great bang-for-your-buck this really is. Given the data of 2 QC whiskies being so good, I’m guaranteed to try the next cost-effective QC whisky that makes it to our shores.

Nose: Sweet barley. Honeyed pears, and oak. Peat (of the Ardbeg variety). A bit salty too. Cinnamon hearts. Reminds me of that Simpson’s moment where Homer says “Look boy! I’m in Australia! Now I’m America. Australia! America!”. I find myself saying “I’m drinking a Glenfiddich! Now I’m drinking Auchentoshan! Glenfiddich! Auchentoshan! …Bruichladdich?”

Palate: Reasonably smooth for such youth. Oily. Sweet cinnamon red hots, baby. Fruit, sweetness, some cinnamon and pepper. It, again, reminds me of Auchentoshan, but not so bright and vibrant. The peat and rich Speyside characteristics take it down a few shades, and that’s alright!  It’s interesting to have a dessert whisky be peated so well. I was worried that a $44 peated whisky would turn out like Dun Bheagan’s 8yo Islay: fruit with peat sprinkles. No, this one is well married together. The peat is a compliment, not the goal itself.

Finish: Tart fruit and smoky peat. This is the end you’d expect, and love.

Grade: B-

I had this at a B upon opening, but it’s a tad rougher than my B should be. It’s by no means bad, however. A few years in the cask (get it up to 10yo and we’ll talk) would make the peat a little more “sexy” as I’ve heard others describe aged peat. Of course you’ll ask, “if the notes are so kind, why is the mark so poor”? Well, the notes are as kind as those of Highland Park 12, Oban 14, and others in it’s range. Nothing sticks out as being bad, but nothing makes me want to buy a case and sit on it with a sling-shot in fear that it’ll never come back. It’s just a good whisky, and in the end, for $44 in Ontario, that’s damn fine. We can’t all be drinking Uigeadail every week. If you’re a peat fan, this is a must-try. In fact, it’s a must-own.