Ardmore – 1996 – Gordon & MacPhail – Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Review

Ardmore – 1996 – Gordon & MacPhail – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 43% (86 Proof)

Sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail

Look/Appearance: Light gold, illuminated by the flames from a fireplace. Nice warm hues in the full bottle. This is from a re-fill sherry hogshead. Seems to be from a 2013 release, which would make this 1996 about seventeen years old. Bottle features a cool retro Ardmore label. I have wanted to explore Ardmore further as they are one of the few Speyside distilleries that peat their barley. This is my second of four reviews of whiskies included in “The Wood Makes the Whisky” collection, from independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail.


Nose: Honey drenched peat, chewy dulce de leche caramels, lilac, a mountain stream, a couple of twigs still smoking in a long ago fire, ripe apricot, green melon, honey baked ham, a peat based perfume, candles, and smoked salt. The very light peat influence serves to heighten the experience of the nose for me. A wonderful aroma.

Palate: Gentle entry with something like the concentrated honey water that is at the bottom of a cup of tea. Soft and round in the mouth. Almost too easy going, but I don’t often drink whiskies that are of this low proof. Apples, almonds, nougat, gentle barley, hay, and some soft smoke. Nice, but a little muted for my tastes. Though, it does feel nicely refined and seems to be growing on me with every sip. Too bad about this being only a sample. I wonder how my opinions of this would change as I worked through a full bottle?

Finish: A nice little spark on the exit with some spice; sarsaparilla, a touch of ginger, and clove. The wood is almost non-existent. Well no, let me clarify, it seems as if the casks were made of soft gentle oak that formerly contained a beehive. Yum. Then things get a little medicinal, sour and dry. Which other than the slight sourness is a fine way to exit. Medium finish with things moving out gently. Honey and soft peat smoke are left on your lips.

Overall: A very enjoyable single malt. Not very challenging, but I think that is the point. Some peat, some sherry, and some gentle oak are seamlessly merged with time and patience. I really like the nose on this, but it lets me down a little in the palate and finish. This is only because of a lack of pyrotechnics and its mellow character. It is very pleasant, but almost to a fault. Though as I mature in my own appreciation of single malts I feel a better understanding of whiskies such as this. Subtle charms can have longer term appeal than overpowering ones. Thinking about the wooden theme, I again find a whisky where the wood is perfectly matched to the spirit. The gentle sweet oak pairs nicely with the lightly peated Ardmore and re-fill sherry to create a malt that exudes class. Thanks again to Gordon & MacPhail for allowing me the opportunity to try this. I can’t wait to write about the remaining two samples.

Rating: 8.6


The Ardmore 1996 is the second in from the left.


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