Ardmore is an ‘untapped gem’

A Brisk Look at Ardmore Distillery

Discover

Ardmore distillery is located in the village of Kennethmont, Scotland and is owned by Beam Suntory. It’s a large Victorian distillery that produces two styles of single malt. The softly peated Ardmore, a Highland malt which is quite rare for its geography, and the unpeated Ardlair, which is used in independent bottlings and for blending purposes.

For many whisky enthusiasts, Ardmore is a ‘untapped gem’ consistently pumping out beautiful spirit for their official bottlings with a fantastic range coming from independent bottlers offering natural colour, non-chill-filtration and higher ABV releases.

During the first year of the global Covid pandemic in 2020, many distilleries found themselves on struggle street with sales declining and whispers of ‘restructure’ in the air. In saying that though, around a quarter of Scottish, single malt brands actually increased their sales with the Ardmore distillery sitting firmly within that 25%.

From inception, Ardmore whisky has been a key component of Teachers blended scotch whisky with popularity/sales for its original bottlings going up over 300% in just 10 years with approx. 700,000 bottles of Ardmore whisky sold in 2022. Furthermore, the Teachers blend has seen its sale figures halved in the last few years as whisky lovers gravitate towards Ardmore’s OB expressions and independent bottlings of their single malt whisky. The PPM (phenols per million) in about 50% of Ardmore’s production comes in at around 12-14 ppm using local peat, which represents a cleaner, less pungent profile compared to its Islay contemporaries.

Original Bottlings

Blends

Indie’s

Truth and Consequence – Ardmore Distillery 2010 Vintage Refill Bourbon 62.8% ABV

Ross and I share a real appreciation for all things Ardmore, so it was a no-brainer to work with the distillery for our very first Truth and Consequence IB release.

It’s a refill bourbon-barrel monster that was matured for 12 uninterrupted years in the Highlands of Scotland resulting in a brash and complex piece of liquid nirvana.

We make no apologies for the big and raw cask strength whiskies we bottle using only a simple 25-micron bag for this expression to catch any pieces of wood or char from entering the bottle. From there, we leave it untouched. With minimal filtration and no added colour, this means all the beautiful long-chain fatty acids and esters remain in the whisky bringing a beautiful velvet mouthfeel and a natural drinking experience free of any processed interruptions. Our methods are aimed at the real whisky savant.

With a yield of only 125 bottles, either the Angels were working overtime pilfering their fill, or the distillery workers knew a great tasting whisky barrel. We had a load of fun choosing this particular barrel and we hope you enjoy the whisky as much as we did selecting it. Makes for the perfect after-dinner mint around an evening fire

Ardmore Spec Zone

The distillery is equipped with a beautiful red painted cast -iron, semi lauter mash tun with a copper lid. There are 16 Douglas-fir washbacks with six of them having a capacity of 90 ,000 litres and 10 with a capacity of 45 ,000 litres. Two of the largest ones were added in April 2022. The reason for the additional two washbacks is to allow for the same fermentation time, 70 hours for both Ardmore and Ardlair styles.

Image courtesy of Travel Guide Scotland – Stills

Washbacks

Finally, there are four pairs of stills in a large still house and the furnace for the coal firing, a practice abandoned in 2002, can still be seen underneath the stills.

A Brief History

1868 – Adam Teacher, son of William Teacher starts the construction of Ardmore distillery, which eventually becomes William Teacher and Son’s first distillery. Adam teacher passes away before it’s completed.

Image circ. 1880’s showing Adam Teacher (William’s son)

1955 – Stills are increased from two to four.

1974 – Another four stills are added increasing the total to eight.

1976 – Allied breweries takes over William Teacher and Sons, and thereby also Ardmore.

1999 – A 12-year-old is released to commemorate the distilleries hundred anniversary. A 21-year-old is launched as a limited-edition expression.

2002 Ardmore is one of the last distilleries to abandon direct heating by coal of the stills in favour of indirect heating through steam.

2005 Jim Beam Brands becomes the new owner when it takes over some 20 spirits and wine brands from Allied Domecq for $5 billion dollars.

2007 Ardmore ‘OB’ Traditional cask was launched.

2008 A 25-year-old and a 30-year-old are launched.

2014 – Beam and Suntory merge and the Legacy is released.

2015 – The Traditional is relaunched as ‘Tradition’ and a Triple Wood and a 12-year-old Port finish are released.

2017 – A 20-year-old double matured, single malt is released.

2018 – A 30-year-old is released.

2021 – A $4 million dollar project to restore 1,300 hectares of peat land near the distillery was initiated by the owners in November 2021.

By 2022, the distillery had ramped up production to seven days a week focusing on Ardmore from January to March, and September to December, while the rest of the year is devoted to their Ardlair spirit.

Final Thoughts

As long as Ardmore remains somewhat of a ‘hidden gem’, you won’t find any complaints from enthusiasts who enjoy drinking their OB’s and independent bottlings. As a work horse distillery, Ardmore may not have the prestige and glamour associated with many of her counterparts, however, the team simply produce delicious new-make spirit which shines all the way through to the bottle. Nothing fancy – just great whisky. How refreshing….

Truth and Consequence