Alexander Murray & Co Ardlair 2010 Single Malt
Although categorized as a Highland whisky, Ardmore flirts heavily with the South-east peripherals of Speyside, lying boisterously at the foot of the Grampian hills. Big and brash, it is also known for flirting heavily with peat, at least some of the time that is.
Built in 1989 for the purpose of producing single malt for blends, Teacher’s opted to make peated whisky here. This move alleviated the company’s reliance on Islay’s producers of peated whisky to add smokiness to blends – a particularly astute decision, given the growing popularity of Scotch whisky at the time. Today, since the distillery adopted steam during distillation rather than coal fires, two spirit characters are made here, a practice that is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Both spirit styles are produced at separate times of the year, in which the point of difference in production is the Phenol level of the barley delivered to the distillery, i.e. the level of peat used in drying. ‘Ardmore’ is the heavily peated single malt; ‘Ardlair’, or ‘Ardless’ as it’s sometimes known, is the unpeated single malt. Worth noting is that, although each spirit is vastly different in character, because Ardmore and Ardlair are from the same distillery, they can be vatted (or married) together and still be called a single malt.
Sometimes big, brash, earthy and smoky; sometimes subtle, floral and fruity. A real Jekyll and Hyde distillery. Let your nose prepare you accordingly.
This 2010 vintage is fantastically assertive: rich and nutty, with bags of the Highland character. A real ‘pick-me-up’ dram; however addition of water reveals layers of complexity, and a softer side that is not immediately apparent.