Ardnahoe Inaugural Release

We're kicking off the week looking at the inaugural release from Ardnahoe, Islay's ninth distillery.

Ardnahoe Inaugural Release

Region: Islay

ABV: 50.0%

Price: £70.00

Owned by the Glasgow-based independent bottler Hunter Laing, Ardnahoe is the ninth distillery on Islay. It filled its first cask in 2018 and officially opened to visitors in 2019. Their inaugural release is a five-year-old whisky matured in a combination of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, bottled at 50% ABV. A total of 70,000 bottles were released worldwide.


The nose offers a surprisingly complex array of aromas including dried soil, proving bread, rum and raisin sweets, black pepper, Basset fruit salad sweets, pear drops, tar, and dried apricots. Going back there’s also some bonfire smoke, prunes, and burnt caramel. Good alcohol integration on this and if we had nosed this blind we’d have probably put this around seven or eight years old.


The palate features cigarette ash, chilli jam spice, caramelised sugar, gingerbread, dried wood, lemon juice, and soil. The profile is less sweet than the nose suggested, a little dry, but not unpleasant. The finish is good, but with spice and a hint of peat lingering beyond the sweeter notes. The mouthfeel is decent enough, though trying this at cask strength would have been preferable. As we sit with this, notes of fresh leather, and green apples also emerge.

Nose (with water)

With dilution, the nose reveals warehouse funk, plums, cherries, vanilla essence, and burnt toast. The profile shifts from fruity to more savoury notes of salted peanuts and cashews, alongside strawberry Chewits and hand-cut plain crisps. The peaty character remains pronounced, featuring ash and dried earth.

Palate (with water)

Adding water to the palate has toned down the dryness and spice, balancing the flavours nicely and now accentuating the sweetness. Sitting with it we can’t help but notice some similarities with Ardbeg. A hint of dark chocolate bitterness also emerges. The mouthfeel remains pleasing, and while the finish still has good length, it features less spice than before. 


Has the wait been worth it? In a word, yes. This release stands out as one of the better offerings from the "New Wave" of distilleries emerging recently. It's enjoyable undiluted but definitely improves with a touch of water. This solid first release doesn't rely on a variety of cask types to mask the youthfulness of the spirit, showcasing its quality straightforwardly. It leaves us eager to try more from Ardnahoe

Score: 7.5/10


Yes, £70 is on the more expensive side given the age, but we appreciate that this has been priced less than a lot of other inaugural releases and at a slightly higher ABV too.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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