Just as whisky neophytes have gotten their minds around things like the Scotch tasting map, where Islay and other whiskies are on the smoky and maritime side and Highland whiskies are soft, smooth and sweet, Ardmore comes along to remind us that production methods trump all other distinctions. Ardmore claims to be the only Highland distiller fully peating their malt, and so of course, this non chill-filtered whisky starts out with an aromatic experience familiar to Islay lovers – a burst of smoke resembling a leaf fire on a windy day. But behind that is a pretty caramel and cream softness and richness, not the sinewy leaness of an Islay. On the palate, smoke again and a bit of saltiness to accompany a bourbony vanilla and oak sweetness - salted caramels, even. Ripe apples and pears emerge near the finish of this full bodied but not overpowering Scotch, and it climaxes with the brisk tang of fruitwood smokiness. While the edges could use some rounding and the vanilla and smoke can somehow seem a bit at odds, I'm looking forward to trying the other expressions from Ardmore. 46% abv (Beam Global)
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