My wife and I planned an overnight to Atlanta to eat at FLIP Burger Boutique and Antico Pizza Napoletana. It’s only about a two hour drive but throw in some shopping at IKEA and you’ve easily got a full day. I took advantage of the drive by stopping at one of my favorite liquor stores, Total Wine & More in Kennesaw. On the way down. And on the way back.
In comparison to anything in Chattanooga, Total Wine is a scotch wonderland. They have many distillery official bottlings and plenty of options for the robust of wallet. They also have a contract with an independent bottler, Battlehill. Don’t know about independent bottlers? Learn more here.
Again, I had no luck finding the Ardmore Traditional Cask Peated. What I did find was a Battlehill bottling of Ardmore 6 Year (Peated). Ardmore Traditional Cask is a No Age Statement (NAS) scotch, so all we really know is that it’s at least 3 years and 1 day old. It could be six years old. I guess only Ardmore insiders will ever know. This scotch was only about $50 so there wasn’t much to lose.
These are my first impressions of this bottle. I’ve already had a few drams, but as with most other single malt whiskies, I get something new and different at every tasting. Since I’m less than a third of the bottle in, it’s still new.
Light straw color with excellent clarity. Moves freely and lightly in the glass. Legs are there but faint.
I get apricots immediately. There’s a nice alcohol tingle that gives way to earthy, peaty wisps of smoke as you pull your nose away from the glass. Very light sniffs yield a sweet caramelly vanilla. Overall, a moderately complex aroma.
Slick on the tongue and somewhat light –even at cask strength. Blowing through the nose with the mouth closed summons up a warm tingle. Mouthfeel on the finish is moderate. It doesn’t fade too quickly but it’s not mouth-coating either.
Immediate earthy smoke. But it’s not aggressively peaty, ashy, or rubbery like many Islay offerings. Being a Highland distillery, this is exactly what I’d expect. The flavor is quite bright, yielding some nice stone fruit hinted at by the apricot in the nose. The caramelly sweetness is also there but the vanilla is very much a character of the oak in the flavor. It’s this charred oak vanillins wispy with smoke that lasts into the moderate finish. Finally, just as the flavor fades away, I get the slightest hint of fresh leather.
Ardmore 6 reminds me a lot of Kilchoman Machir Bay –if not quite as complex. The aromas and flavors are bright and young. Even at 6 years, this is a young scotch, so this is expected. I think of this scotch as an excellent introduction to peat without beating the drinker over the head with ash and rubber. Further, being a Highland scotch, it doesn’t have any of the salty brine that turn many people off of Islay malts. This was a great buy at $50. If you see a bottle (from any independent bottler), give it a try.
78/100 – It’s a really good scotch and an excellent “transition” scotch on your path to Islay enlightenment.
Buy Ardmore Scotch Whisky
If there’s one thing whisky aficionados have over beer snobs and wine spitters, it’s that our glassware is simple. Dump a dram in a highball glass and slide it down the rail, barman. Who’s Glencairn and why would I use his glass?
Maybe not. After all, after we appreciate the liquor’s appearance, don’t we give it a big whiff first? Even when we’re in a hurry, the fumes from a good single malt or bourbon fill our nostrils before it ever touches our lips. And it turns out, our whisky really does deserve the same treatment as a craft beer or crafted wine.
The Glencairn whisky glass was developed by Glencairn Crystal, Ltd. in Scotland –so its pedigree is well in place. It’s so popular in Scotland and Ireland in fact, “The whisky glass is now used by all Scottish and Irish distilleries.”(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/4927354.stm) And with good reason: it really is the perfect glass for drinking scotch.
As Rodney Brazil explains in his excellent article, “The Glencairn Glass – Whiskey Innovation Four Millennia in the Making,” the most important features of the glass are the bulb, the tulip shape, and the opening. The bulb, at the bottom of the glass, creates the perfect vessel to critically evaluate the color and clarity of the dram. The tulip shape focuses the aromas from the bulb culminating in a perfectly-sized opening that accommodates nearly any nose. Additionally, the solid foot at the bottom limits skin contact with glass that would warm the whisky.
I love my Glencairn set so much, I use it for every whisk(e)y I drink. Single malts, bourbons, even the occasional Irish whiskey are all appreciated from a Glencairn. I’ve found that a point halfway up the bulb equals exactly an ounce and a half –the perfect dram to enjoy casually or mull over for an hour or so.
Materials for the Glencairn whisky glass run the gamut. From leaded crystal to soda-lime, most will be able to find a set that falls in their price range. I picked up a set of four in lead-free crystal from Amazon for less than $20. At that price, I feel OK with tossing them in the dishwasher and replacing them if they break or get too hazy. I recommend this set.