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It feels as if Ardmore is popping up this year with greater frequency on the independent bottling circuit. That is most certainly all conjecture based on nothing at this point, but perhaps Beam Suntory is considering joining the trend of testing younger stock on the market, at first through independent channels, before introducing a similar bottling under its lineup. One thing which is not conjecture: I am probably watching too many conspiracy documentaries for my own good.
Bottled for the venerable Cadenhead’s label, this Ardmore finds its 8 year resting time split between sherry and bourbon casks and is the most youthful Ardmore I’ve come across. Without further ado, let’s see if it lives up to the reputation of older siblings.
On the nose, there are generous notes of lemon and black tea with just a little hint of smoke, serving as a teaser for what’s next. Letting it rest brings out faint traces of vanilla, and adding a few drops of water alters things ever so slightly, with a mineral element appearing over time. Simplicity is the name of the game on the palate, with a wave of that lemon note from the nose dominating and a mild note of tobacco leaf finally rearing its head towards the end. If you have the patience, this improves and balances out the longer it rests in the glass, so slow savoring is highly encouraged.
The finish is long and mellow, full of menthol and pepper at first, with an undercurrent of lemon hanging on until the very end. The higher proof helps keep things engaging and is a worthwhile contender of consideration into a full-fledged addition to Ardmore’s core range. However, I suspect bottling at anything less than 90 proof would dampen the quality considerably.
B+ / $100