Ardnamurchan, the Highland distillery built by independent bottler Adelphi, has reached maturity.
This single cask was only bottled in tiny 5 cl bottles, so I suppose in tiny amounts rather than the whole cask having been emptied. (Oh but wait, apparently 67 bottles of 70 cl have been bottled, at 59,3%: see here.) Thus far, Ardnamurchan is doing these absolutely horrendous names for their whiskies, so this one is called AD/CK.670-16/10/15. It is a 5 YO peated oloroso hogshead and the ABV is 59,5%. It will be a day of much merriment when they settle on whatever brand names they will use. I would not be surprised if the whiskies will be named things such as Fascadale or Glenborrodale. Until then, it seems we are stuck with many many numbers as the names…
This whisky was bottled as part of a tasting set of four whiskies, if I am not mistaken. Anyway, here are my notes.
On the nose: oh, come on. Really? Only five years?!?! From a hogshead?!?! This is a wonderful nose. Melted butter, jam made from fruits of the forest and a mild, smokey note way back. Unlit charcoals. Danish pastry. What really surprises me here is there is no tinge or attack of raw alcohol, which really should be there given the ABV and the age of the whisky. Also, this does come across as young or immature. It is not a complex nose, but the notes are coherent.
Palate: as expected, it is a little younger here, but no way near as young as one would think. Much smokier than the nose, but we are far away from Islay. Well, not that far, this is more sort of Talisker-y. Great peppery notes. Seaweed. Fresh mint. Hints of dark fruit. It is impressive and a little shocking that it can be unproblematically enjoyed without water after only five years in a hogshead.
Finish: very smokey and peaty; a dash of oil; some seaweed and spearmint. Really good. This is not ”good for a five-year-old” good, it’s good in and of itself. I am truly impressed with this whisky.
With water, quite a big dash: less of the fruit jam and more rasins on the nose. Maltier, if that is a word in English. Still no attack from the alcohol and no immature notes. Also, a candy with notes of Coca-cola but way less sugar which is popular in Sweden and which apparently also exist in English: ”cola pacifiers”. This:
On the palate, the smoke and peat have gotten this wonderful touch of diesel. The fresh mint is now spearmint. The finish has notes of sugary cola in the smoke, and even more spearmint. If what one is looking for is youth it is there to be found, but you have to really look for it. Very impressive.
Conclusions: of course, if you want to impress with a 5 YO, a peated sherry cask is a good choice to do it. Both the sherry and the peat will hide the youth in such a young whisky. Even so, this is a crazy good whisky. I would say 87–88 point. Note that I don’t mean that as ”87–88 points considering this is a five-year old”, as so many who score whiskies tend to do, handing out scores of 90 like it is so much free candy. I land on 87 points. I am astounded at the quality of this whisky.