Launched at the very end of 2018, not long after the Ardmore 20 Years, this Ardmore 30 Year Old is the oldest official bottling so far, I think. An important release, yet it was launched without the usual marketing trumpets.
It was distilled in their direct coal-fired stills back then (ended in 2001 after a fire), matured in refill bourbon casks and finished in first-fill bourbon casks.
Ardmore 30 yo 1987 (47,2%, OB 2019, refill + first-fill bourbon)
Nose: plenty of hay and grasses, with waxy and spicy hints (pepper, nutmeg), cold ash and a little coffee. Then the fruity notes come out, gentle pineapple and baked apple. Menthol, leather, some almonds and machine oil.
Mouth: still this engine / garage-style character, with creamy fruits (roasted pineapple, melon, golden raisins) mixed with eucalyptus, dried herbs and gentle peat smoke. A little pepper and damp earth. Liquorice. Light hints of salted toffee towards the end.
Finish: quite long, half smoky, half fruity. Citrus zest and oak spice.
A very warm, complex and sophisticated Ardmore which reminds us of some Brora expressions. The price is reasonable: Gordon & MacPhail asked 60% more for its 1987 bottled a few months earlier. Still available from The Whisky Exchange.