Monday, October 20, 2014

New release - Ardmore 'Legacy'

The Legacy is a new core expression from the east Highland distillery of Ardmore.  The new release will replace the Traditional Cask bottling, which will eventually appear in another form during 2015.  The Legacy is the first release to feature a mix of the traditional peated Ardmore malt and a non-peated version, named Ardlair, which they have been making in small quantities each year since 2001.  The release also coincided with the launch of The Peated Malts of Distinction, a programme which showcases the entry level peaty/smoky whiskies of owners Beam Suntory.

The Ardmore distillery sits between rugged hills in the village of Kennethmont, which is about 45 minutes drive west of Aberdeen.  It was founded in 1898 by William Teacher & Sons to give them a consistent and constant supply for their increasingly popular Teacher's blended Scotch.  The distillery was designed by renowned architect Charles Doig and the whisky produced there has featured in the Teacher's range ever since.  The first proprietary single malt was only released in 2007.  It is a large distillery with an annual capacity of 5.5 million litres and many of the casks destined for release as Ardmore single malt are warehoused on site.

The new release continues the distillery's tradition of producing peated malt, which they have done since the early 1900s.  Ardmore is currently the only Highland distillery to produce the majority of its whisky in this smoky style.  Legacy comes with re-designed packaging, which prominently features map-style graphics of the local area and Ardmore's eagle logo.    Legacy is bottled at 40% ABV and is available in both supermarkets and specialist stores for around the £30 mark.

Our tasting notes 
The colour is golden yellow and the nose shows a mix of sweetness, fruitiness and smokiness.  There is plenty of fudge, vanilla and toffee, and these are complimented by fresh green apples and pears.  The smokiness is soft, savoury and slightly earthy.  All the aromas are heightened by a hint of white pepper and cinnamon spice.

On the palate the whisky has an instant grip and vibrancy.  The feel in the mouth is lovely and mixes sweeter and drier notes.  A delicate savoury smoke hits first and this has an earthy feel to it.  Then follows some lovely sweetness - think of icing sugar, boiled caramel sweets and honey - and distinct fresh green notes (imagine the apple and pear from the nose, plus some dried grass/hay).  With time, the earthy smoke fades and becomes more vegetal, with plenty of late malted barley notes coming through along with a pinch of cinnamon and baking spice.

The finish is of decent length.  It is the sweetness that fades first to leave the warming cinnamon spice, bittersweet malted barley and gentle smoke to linger.  This creates a pleasant mouth watering dryness.

What's the verdict?
The conclusion here is similar to that of the Glen Moray Classic 'Port Cask Finish' that we reviewed last week - this is a great entry level whisky and one whose quality belies its lowly price tag.  The styles of whisky are different, but the similarities do not stop there ... the Legacy is not the most complex whisky but it is easy drinking.

It offers a good introduction in to the smoky/peaty category, as intended by Beam Suntory's Peated Malts of Distinction initiative, and an alternative to other similar whiskies for those who want to try something a bit different or quirkier.  Those lamenting on social media about the old Traditional Cask being withdrawn and replaced with an 'inferior product' need not worry too much in our opinion ...


Chandalf said...

"The Legacy continues the distillery's tradition of being the only peated Highland malt…"

I have been a follower of your blog since its early days but recently I have started to think you are becoming a little too trusting of the press releases you are sent. I'm sure you will realise that the above is not really an accurate statement…?

As for the whisky, I have been a fan of the Traditional for some time; my 'go-to' drama if you like. I will give the new release a try, but from your notes I can't help thinking they have 'dumbed down' a crackin' dram.

Whisky For Everyone said...

Dear Chandalf

Thanks for your comment and continued reading.

As a result, I have looked at and re-worded that section as I can see that it can be read incorrectly. The new wording is more accurate I believe.

We do get a lot of press releases and sort out the few useful bits of 'wheat' from lots (and I mean lots) of 'chaff'. Most are taken with a pinch of salt and as a result we re-write them to convey what we want. Many other blogs simply copy and paste, which is their choice, but we feel it is better to interpret what they say instead and cut out the PR speak.

As mentioned in the post, the Traditional Cask will re-appear in a slightly different guise in 2015 so there is no need to despair if you do not like 'Legacy'. This was said on a recent trip to the distillery but no further information was given.

Thanks again and regards, Matt @ WFE

Wee Robbie said...

The "new guise" is to offer the Traditional Cask in the lucrative travel Retail sector come spring 2015. I have been advised of this by email from a distillery rep after writing to state my displeasure re "The" Ardmore discontinuing my daily go to value dram. Perhaps a slight price increase would have done the job but they have opted to reduce quality and rebrand as their way of gouging. They have seen the last of my money. Too bad as Traditional Cask was a very fine product.

Unknown said...

I am enjoying this dram and at £20 from tesco it seems quite a bargain.