Whisky Review #49: Ardmore 1993 22 Years Old

Another week brings with it another review and this one is the penultimate review before we hit the 2nd milestone since the inception of this blog: The 50th review!

Considering how far this blog has come since I started it as a means to record my experiences in Islay, I’m actually quite happy to see the progression. Needless to say, I have something truly amazing set aside for the 50th review.

Today’s review focuses on the Ardmore 22 Years Old, which was distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2015 by Gordon & MacPhail as an exclusive for Whisky-Online. But before that, let’s first delve into the history of the distillery.

The distillery was established in 1898 by Adam Teacher, who was the son of William Teacher (the person who established the Teacher’s brand of blended Scotch whisky). It was the first distillery to be incorporated into what eventually became the company, William Teacher & Sons.

Ardmore Distillery
Ardmore Distillery (Picture credit: http://www.whisky.com)

The distillery remained under the control of William Teacher & Sons until 1976, during which time it was expanded on several occasions and the number of stills was increased to the present total of 8. It was then purchased by Allied Breweries, who proceeded to decommission the old Saladin maltings on site.

Over the next 20 years, the distillery remained relatively obscure and its primary focus was to make blended whiskies for the Teacher’s brand as well as other brands of blended whisky. It was only in 1999 when single malt offerings were released by the distillery, starting off with a 12 Years Old expression to mark the distillery’s centenary as well as a 21 Years Old limited edition expression.

Ardmore was also one of the last distilleries in Scotland to abandon the process of direct firing their stills with coal and switched to indrect heating by way of steam coils within the stills.

The distillery remained under the control of Allied Domecq (which had changed its name from Allied Breweries) until 2005, when Beam Global purchased 20 wine and spirits companies from Allied for a staggering sum of US$5 Billion and took control of the distillery and the Teacher’s brand.

The distillery then proceeded to release Ardmore Traditional, which was a No Age Statement (NAS) addition to the core range. They followed it up with the release of a 25 Years Old and 30 Years Old expression the following year.

The distillery remained under the control of Beam Global until 2014, when it merged with Suntory Holdings Limited in a US$16 Billion deal to form the third largest spirits conglomerate in the world, Beam Suntory.

In terms of equipment, the distillery sports a 12.5 tonne cast iron mash tun with a copper dome, 14 washbacks made from Douglas fir and four pairs of stills fitted with sub-coolers to give more copper contact.

The distillery currently conducts 25 mashes a week and is working at capacity, producing 5.5 million litres of pure alcohol on an annual basis. While the majority of the distillery’s production is peated to 12-14 ppm phenol, the remaining 40% of spirit produced is unpeated and is sold as a blending malt known as Ardlair to other companies.

So, let’s get on with the review, shall we?

Ardmore 21 Years Old
Ardmore 1993 22 Years Old (Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail for Whisky-Online)

Ardmore 1993 22 Years Old (49.9% abv, Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail for Whisky-Online)

Colour: Gold

Nose: Initial entry presents a smoky note, but very unlike what one would expect from an Islay distillery. The peat is sweet here and there seems to be a touch of desiccated coconut lingering just behind.

Slightly flinty, with hints of black pepper, menthol and a good level of maltiness to this dram. Hints of vanilla and a touch of smoke round off an enjoyable nosing experience. (21/25)

Palate: Interestingly enough, there is a fruity note on the palate that wasn’t really detectable on the nose. Summer fruits that are reminiscent of passionfruit, apricots and mangoes make an appearance, along with a touch of menthol and smoke.

Very easy on the palate considering the near 50% abv of this dram and there is a touch of black pepper and just a hint of peach and peat at the very end. (22/25)

Finish: Long, lingering and relatively fruity finish, with some smoke and peat lingering in the background but not being obtrusive. Orange zest and peaches at the very end. (21/25)

Balance: A very well balanced dram which showcases the distillery in a very favourable light. Considering that this is a peated whisky, the peat definitely takes a back seat and allows for the other nuances to shine through. Fruity, rich and slightly oily on the palate, this one is definitely one worth savouring! (22/25)

Rating: 86/100

I’m not sure if Gordon & MacPhail knew exactly what they had in their possession when they bottled this dram, but bloody hell it is good stuff. My compliments to Arun (who was formerly of The Auld Alliance but has now left in order to take some time off and travel), who suggested this dram to me when I asked for a recommendation.

Top notch recommendation mate and I enjoyed it quite immensely! Best wishes for your future endeavours and wishing you safe passage and a wonderful travelling experience when you head off for your travels at the end of the month!

Unfortunately, this particular expression is sold out in most places and it is no surprise as only 176 bottles were filled from the American Oak hogshead from whence it came. But if you are looking for a dram of this beauty, please head down to the Auld Alliance whisky bar on the 2nd floor of the Rendezvous Hotel. I’m sure you’ll have a bloody good time there too!

Until the next post, have a great week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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