Ardmore owes its existence to a much more famous whisky, Teacher’s Highland Cream. Back in 1898, Adam Teacher, son of the late William Teacher, who founded the eponymous brand, decided he needed a reliable source of robust barley-malt whisky as the core ingredient for his family’s increasingly popular, smooth-drinking blend of malt and grain whiskies. With the more recent boom in premium single malts, Ardmore came into its own, bottling its own premium offerings under the Ardmore name while continuing to supply Teacher’s with bulk whisky destined for the lighter blend.
The style, strongly infused with the smoke of peat-fuelled fire, is an anomaly for a Highland whisky, more akin to the heavily peated elixirs of the island of Islay than the generally more delicate, lightly peated spirits of the mainland.
This Traditional Cask bottling is inspired, with one foot in Islay and the other in the Highlands. It starts with sweet, malty richness and cereal flavour, answered by smoke, iodine and spice. Equally alluring is the smooth, velvety texture, the signature of an uncommon two-stage maturation process. After a main period in large casks, the spirit spends a short time in quarter-size casks, drawing more oaky richness due to the greater wood-to-spirit ratio. It’s a great value.