Most distilleries are going down the path of launching NAS expressions, usually by introducing new bottlings. Sometimes old expressions are discontinued at the same time and you keep thinking they’re simply lowering the bar a little…
In the case of Ardmore, it’s not just lowering the bar but also watering down. Ardmore Traditional Cask, a rather well-respected dram (kind of the underdog for Islay whisky), has recently been discontinued and replaced with Ardmore Legacy. The old one was bottled at 46% and unchill filtered, the new one is bottled at the bare minimum of 40% and comes filtered. On the other hand, it seems the Traditional Cask will reappear in another form in 2015 so maybe it’s all just a temporary complaint.
Ardmore Legacy is a mix of 80% peated malt and 20% unpeated.
Ardmore Legacy (40%, OB 2014)
Nose: malty sweetness (think breakfast cereals), with candy apple and toffee. Smoked almonds and marzipan. Vanilla. Hints of bread crust. Gentle peat and charcoal, easy to notice but not on the Islay level. Honeyed nuts and cinnamon. Mouth: fairly light, although I have to say it’s less noticeable because the peaty notes add weight. Some caramel sweetness and mocha, with nice charred notes and roasted coffee beans. Apples. Also light earthy notes and spices. Fades away really quickly though, leaving a thin impression. Finish: medium long, fairly dry and not too intense, with roasted notes and light spices.
Ardmore Legacy is not so different from how I remember Ardmore Traditional: overall a bit lighter but not the inferior product I feared it would be. Still recommendable as an introduction to peat. The price helps: under € 30.