I’ve not been a big fan of Ardmore. I know that some pretty notable whisky buffs are quite fond of it (Dave Broom, to name at least one), but I just haven’t seemed to cross paths with one that convinced me that it was anything special.
Here’s one way to consider it.
The Balvenie is pretty much always a sunny day for me. The Laphroaig is a cool evening by a fire with the full moon shining. The Glenmorangie is a spring morning. Ardmore is, well, a cloudy, no big deal day. The sun is out, but it’s not like you can see it or anything. And so maybe it will be warm. Maybe it will be cool. Maybe it will rain. Maybe it won’t. Who knows? It’s just a no big deal day.
But then there’s the Ardmore Legacy.
Not all that long ago, I was sitting in the driveway watching the kids play. It was an Ardmore kind of day. The overcast sky was seamless and gray. I’m far too positive to ever say that any day in which I may be found outside enjoying life with my children is unpleasant, but again, the day itself was just blah. And yet, at one point, the sky opened just enough for a potently warm sunbeam to stream a perfectly golden crease through the expanse to the earth. It was crisply defined and quite breathtaking. And just as I was about to call the children’s attention to the display, Evelyn, the six-year-old, called out, “Hey guys! Look! A heaven hole!”
Yep, a heaven hole. I’d never heard it called such a thing before, but hey, I get it.
For me, when it comes to the “blah” that is Ardmore, the Legacy is a heaven hole.
I read recently that the Legacy is meant to replace the Traditional Cask. Good. When you need a stiff drink, the Traditional Cask is there for you. It will do the job. Nothing too special about it, but also not so bad that I’ve ever felt the need to rip on it. Read the review and see for yourself.
The very attainably priced Legacy edition (about $45), however, appears to be an attempt by Ardmore at improvement.
The nose is the first of the billowing day’s surprises. The gray opens to let down the scent of a sun-warmed sugar-syrup very gently wrapped in peat smoke. When the inhabitant below begins to drink it in, the palate is enlivened with that same sugar-syrup, now revealed as warmed milk, butter, and sugar well on its way to becoming caramel. All of this is served on a spicy oak plank just barely charred at the edges.
The Legacy gives what you suspect at first is a medium finish, but then the almost-caramel sensation crosses the medium/long threshold by way of the peat smoke that has most certainly coated the tongue and a distinct alcohol nibble.
I guess I’d say from a meteorologically poetic perspective that heaven holes reveal the sky’s joyful potential. I hope that the Legacy edition is doing the same with regard to what we may expect from Ardmore.