Ardmore 1996 (Gordon & MacPhail)

Independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail have recently launched a campaign ‘The wood makes the whisky’.

Contrary to smaller bottlers, who simply buy mature casks, G&M buy young spirit and are responsible for the maturation themselves. As they explain on the excellent website, the essence of their work is matching spirit with the right type of oak, curating the maturation process and getting the result they were imagining.

To underscore the importance of casks and the different outcomes of European / American oak, bourbon / sherry fill, cask sizes, they provided four samples with different profiles. We’ll start with this Ardmore 1996 matured in refill sherry hogsheads, including some European oak.



To get the best sherry casks, Gordon & MacPhail have been working with Spanish bodegas Williams & Humbert since Tony Humbert visited Scotland and met the grandfather of Stuart & Richard Urquhart who currently manage G&M.

As a (lightly) peated spirit, G&M think it works well with heavier sherry maturation in European oak.



Ardmore 1996 - Gordon & MacPhailArdmore 1996
(43%, Gordon & MacPhail 2015)

Nose: roasted almonds, toasted oak, complemented with some red apple sweetness and a hint of ripe banana. It’s lightly peated with a gentle mineral side and hints of wet wool. After a while the minerals, pepper, aniseed and chlorophyll have taken over.

Mouth: a lighter attack than we expected, but richly flavoured. Warm smoky notes, pepper and gentle peat, alongside candy apple, cinnamon pastry and roasted almonds.

Finish: long, warm and smoky, with an underlying toffee sweetness.

This is an excellent introduction to smoky whisky. The sweet roundness and balanced spicy notes are a good match for the gentle peat and toasted aromas. Around € 80.

Score: 86/100