Ardnamurchan Sherry Cask & Ardnamurchan Paul Launois 2023


Today we're looking at two recent distillery bottlings from Ardnamurchan distillery.

    Ardnamurchan Sherry Cask

    Region: Highlands

    ABV: 50.0%

    Price: £62.50

    This release is a vatting of peated and unpeated malt that had been matured in a mix of oloroso and PX casks. 13,998 bottles were released.

    Nose

    McGhee's Iced Gingerbread squares, light peat smoke, charred wood, rice crackers, a little yeast, tobacco, caramel, and red berries. Time in the glass reveals a little strawberry, earth, and aniseed. There’s also a hint of citrus that we normally get from Ardnamurchan, but it’s in the background. Not as much of a sherry bomb as some might be expecting, but a promising nose nonetheless.

    Palate

    It’s got a very dirty/smoky palate, considering it’s a mix of peated and unpeated distillate. We get ash, earth, cloves, aniseed, along with ginger and caramel from the nose. The palate has a slight oiliness that we enjoy. The ginger spice lingers on a good length finish, outlasting the brown sugar that also hangs about. It’s not as sweet as we were expecting, but it has a good balance of flavours.

    Nose (with water)

    Reduction highlights more traditional sherry notes, and we’re getting more caramel, a little rancio, treacle, cloves, oats, cranberries, and aniseed. The smoke isn’t as prominent, but there’s still an earthiness. Some of the "non-sherried fruits" have gone, but it remains pleasant to nose.

    Palate (with water)

    The palate starts to unravel slightly with water. There are some interesting notes here now, like flat dandelion and burdock, green apple, brown sugar, and dark chocolate, but it has now acquired a disappointingly thinner mouthfeel and has lost the smoke. The finish remains a good length.

    Conclusion

    t’s a good dram that's a little young, but it makes us excited for future Ardnamurchan releases. In a few more years, we expect there will be some stunning stuff coming out of the distillery.

    Score: 7.5/10

    Value

    Good for today's market, Aberlour A'Bunadh is currently nearly £90 a bottle.

    Ardnamurchan Paul Launois 2023

    Region: Highlands

    ABV: 57.1%

    Price: £70.00

    Like previous releases this bottling was first matured in first fill Bourbon barrels before being finished in 195 litre wine barriques from Paul Launois, a Champagne producer in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. 2,676 bottles were released.

    Nose

    This is a dram that needs some time in the glass to properly open up. Patience rewards us with notes of pinot gris, a little pepper, white vinegar, chalk, pear tart tatin, green apples, and grapes, golden syrup, and freshly chopped oak. The initial maturation shows as vanilla essence and strawberry laces. It’s a little restrained compared to the previous releases.

    Palate

    The palate has grape juice, tobacco, and simple syrup. There’s some cracked black pepper spice on a good length finish. It’s drier than we’d like or expected. Air reveals the citrus note we usually get from Ardnamurchan, along with honey and some chalk. Decent mouthfeel on this, but we’re finding it a little one-dimensional compared to the previous releases.

    Nose (with water)

    Reduction brings out a lucky charm sweetness, along with that Ardnamurchan citrus. There’s also some icing sugar and apples, but to be honest, water hasn’t changed the dram much.

    Palate (with water)

    On the reduced palate, we’re finding more spice from raw ginger, cinnamon, and peppercorn. A good amount of the sweetness has gone. The finish is still a good length, but there’s even less complexity now. Personally, we’d skip water for this.

    Conclusion

    If given the option, you should definitely go for the Ardnamurchan Sherry Cask release over this. This one is a little dry and not overly complex; it falls short of previous year's releases. We’d rate the three releases so far as follows: 2021 > 2022 > 2023. All things considered, this isn’t terrible whisky, just a little disappointing for the distillery. For us, this is a 6.5/10.

    Score: 6.5/10

    Value

    We're not going to complain; the price is in line with last year’s release, and cask strength whisky doesn’t really go for significantly less than £70 these days.

    • 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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