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Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 20 - G&M Ardmore 1997 - 24 Year Old

Posted on December 20, 2023

by Evan

We have covered Gordon & MacPhail and their distillery bottlings a few times in the 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar, with three G&M different distillery labels. These were Glentauchers on Day Four, Ardmore on Day Ten, and Morlach on Day Fourteen. This Gordon & MacPhail bottling isn’t a batch, though, it is a 24-year-old cask strength, single cask bottling that was aged in a Refill American Oak Hogshead. It should be a fun bottle to compare with the G&M Distillery Label Ardmore 2000 from Day Ten if you have any.



Ardmore Distillery is located within the Highlands, in the village of Kennethmont. Its closest distillery neighbours include Glen Garioch Distillery which is about a 30-minute drive to the East, and GlenDronach Distillery which is about a 30-minute drive north.

Like Glen Garioch, Ardmore Distillery is owned by Beam Suntory.



Click above to view a short YouTube video on Ardmore Distillery from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Both this Gordon & MacPhail bottle from 1997 and the G&M Distillery Label Ardmore 2000 from Day Ten in the 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar were distilled before a big change at the Ardmore Distillery. In 2002, Ardmore's stills were changed from being directly heated by coal fires to the much more modern and common indirect heating of the stills using steam running through pipes.



G&M CC Ardmore 1997 - 24 Year Old - 55.2%

The outturn from Refill American Hogshead Cask No. 900661 was 199 bottles. 

Natural colour, Non-chill filtered, 24 years, and bottled at 55.2% abv.

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Bacon frying on a cast iron skillet, peach cobbler, pineapple rings from the can, vanilla bean, and eucalyptus.

Palate: Apple tarts, peach slices wrapped in a crepe and drizzled in pancake syrup, more bacon, ginger ale, candied orange peel, rainbow popcorn, and a sip from a Mint Julep.

Finish: Tingly, smoky, and sweet.

Comment: This is a light and zingy Ardmore with plenty of fruit. Delicious!

Cheers,
Evan
[email protected]
Facebook & Instagram: @sagelikefool

You can find all blog posts for the UBER EDITION of Kensington Wine Market’s 2023 Whisky Calendar Here
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KWM 2023 Whisky Calendar Blog Day 20 - Ardbeg Wee Beastie

Posted on December 20, 2023

by Evan

I am not going to get into Ardbeg’s history or location or ownership too much. It is old, and it is on Islay. To say more is to preach to the choir for the most part. If you want to know more, just mispronounce the name as ‘Ardberg’ within the hearing of Andrew or Curt. You will quickly be corrected and then likely be given the chronological timeline of the distillery in question as well as a thorough essay on why it is perhaps the best distillery on Islay, if not in Scotland itself. That last part is more likely to come from Curt. Andrew only agrees with this when he temporarily forgets about his first love, which is Bowmore. All in all, I personally find it strange that both of them so easily ignore Bunnahabhain and Laphroaig Distillery’s greater merits. There truly is no accounting for taste!

Anyhow. For a relatively small distillery, Ardbeg’s releases have become relatively prolific over the past few years. The distillery can boast about having the most rabid fan base in the world of Single Malt Scotch, and many of its releases correlate with this. Just about every limited edition bottle of Ardbeg is released to Ardbeg Committee Members first. Membership is free and allows you to find out when the next Ardbeg Limited Release is, well, released.

If there is an issue to be had with many of these releases, it would be that they are mostly variations on a theme and don’t offer much information when it comes to the maturity of the whisky inside or how many bottles are in the batch. The variations on a theme issue is not a real problem if you love Ardbeg Whisky, it just means that some of the special releases may not offer that much unique character versus the readily available core range.

The core range of Ardbeg is pretty strong. If you like you want a taste of what all of the fuss is about when it comes to Ardbeg, the regular Ardbeg 10-Year-Old is a great place to start. If you want a bottle that is a wee bit sweeter and goes in a few more directions when it comes to flavour profile, Ardbeg An Oa should suit you. The combination of peat Sherry is your thing? Then go for the Ardbeg Uigeadail. If you want the Ardbeg-ness of Ardbeg dialled up to 11, go for the Corryvreckan. And now, if you find yourself craving a release of Ardbeg that has an age statement, but you already have the Ardbeg 10, you can go for the Wee Beastie!

The age statement part of this gripe is at least not a direct issue with the Ardbeg Wee Beastie that we will be tasting today. The Wee Beastie does carry a stated age of 5 Years Old, showing the number right on the front label. This itself is certainly a bold move, and there has been a bit of pushback by customers regarding the advertised youth of the bottle since it was first released in 2020.

I find that young, heavily peated Islay Whisky often shows very well – especially when compared to...

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Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 19 - Valinch & Mallet Speyside 30 Year

Posted on December 20, 2023

by Evan

This is a bottling of 30-year-old Speyside Single Malt Scotch from Valinch & Mallet. Which Speyside distillery does it come from though? Is it a mystery malt, right?



Click above for a short YouTube video showing Speyside Distillery

No, actually. In fact, this Speyside single malt was distilled at THE Speyside Distillery – a name that out-generics the likes of Speyburn and Glen Spey and is likely the most boring and redundant of all Scottish Distillery names.

The Speyside Distillery, which is owned by – get this – Speyside Distillers – was founded in 1990, making it fairly young as Scottish distilleries go. Its short life has been relatively tumultuous in terms of ownership and official bottlings, However, the distillery’s location and surroundings are about as idyllic and picturesque as you can find in a country known for containing an overabundance of such places. Speyside Distiller is located in Inverness-Shire, about an hour’s drive south of Inverness itself. Its nearest distillery neighbours include Dalwhinnie Distillery which is about a 30-minute drive to the Southwest, and Tomatin Distillery which is around a 45-minute drive North.

If you have had any Speyside Distillery Single Malt Scotch in the past, it may have been bottled under the name Spey, which is what it’s official releases are labelled as. The bottles look pretty but are just at the point of being too tall to fit on most whisky store shelves. It is infuriating and might be one of the reasons you can’t find it in many whisky shops on a regular basis. I am basing that on personal experience, not actual statistics. What I can tell you is that as I write this, we have no official bottlings of Spey on KWM shelves, because the only shelves the bottles fit on are so high altitude that they can cause nose bleeds and hypoxia if you are not careful enough in your climb.

Okay, if you have been following along with the 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar as well as this UBER Calendar, then you are probably feeling a strong sense of déjà vu. Almost as if you have read much of this before… Well! That is the bottle behind Door Nineteen in that Whisky Calendar is also a from Speyside Distillery, but in that case it is a 25-year-old from The Single Malts Of Scotland.

Back to this bottle. Independent bottler Valinch & Mallet is headquartered in London, England, about a 20-minute walk south of Hyde Park and the Knightsbridge Station for the London Underground transit system. The company was founded in 2015 by Davide Romano and Fabio Ermoli; Italian friends that share a passion for whisky. Valinch & Mallet specializes in Scotch Whisky and Rum, focusing mostly on releasing single-cask bottles at cask strength.

Shall we taste the whisky?

Valinch & Mallet Speyside 30 Year O...

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KWM 2023 Whisky Calendar Blog Day 19 - SMOS Speyside 25 Year

Posted on December 19, 2023

by Evan

The Single Malts of Scotland brand is owned by Elixir Distillers, which itself is owned by Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh. The brothers for a long time owned The Whisky Exchange, a popular and very well-respected group of UK-based whisky shops. The Whisky Exchange was sold to Pernod Ricard in 2021. Elixir Distillers is an independent bottler with some recently realized aspirations of distilling: In 2022, the company purchased Tormore Distillery in Speyside from Pernod Ricard.

The Singh brothers and Elixir are also coming close to their long-term plan of operating their own Islay Distillery. The distillery will be called Portintruan. Groundbreaking at the distillery site, which lies aside the A846 just to the East of Port Ellen and to the west of Laphroaig, took place back in 2020 on the site in 2022, and if things go well the buildings may be completed and the distillery in operation by late 2024 or early 2025.

For now, Elixir Distillers is much more well-known as an independent bottler. Its labels include the Single Malts of Scotland, Whisky Trail, Port Askaig and Elements of Islay brands. We tasted the Elements of Islay CI14 on day 15 in this year’s 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar.

Back to the bottle in front of us. This bottling of Speyside 25-Year-Old from the Single Malts of Scotland is the oldest whisky in this year’s KWM Whisky Calendar we have gotten thus far. Which Speyside distillery does it come from though? Is it a mystery malt?

No, actually. In fact, this Speyside single malt was distilled at THE Speyside Distillery – a name that out-generics the likes of Speyburn and Glen Spey and is at least in the running for the most boring and redundant of all Scottish Distillery names.



Speyside Distillery - Exactly what people imagine a quaint, old Scottish Distillery to look like, though it was only founded in 1990.

The Speyside Distillery, which is owned by – get this – Speyside Distillers – was founded in 1990, making it fairly young as Scottish distilleries go. Its short life has been relatively tumultuous in terms of ownership and official bottlings, However, the distillery’s location and surroundings are about as idyllic and picturesque as you can find in a country known for containing an overabundance of such places. Speyside Distiller is located in Inverness-Shire, about an hour’s drive south of Inverness itself. Its nearest distillery neighbours include Dalwhinnie Distillery which is about a 30-minute drive to the Southwest, and Tomatin Distillery which is around a 45-minute drive North.

If you have had any Speyside Distillery Single Malt Scotch in the past, it may have been bottled under the name Spey, which is what its official releases are labelled as. The bottles look pretty but are just at the point of being too tall to fit on most whisky store shelves....

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Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 18 - Boutique-y Bourbon Whiskey 24 Year Old

Posted on December 18, 2023

by Evan

Beyond telling us that this is a 24-year-old Bourbon Whisky, the label does not give us much to go on. No provenance is directly given as to which distillery it comes from, or even which state it comes from. State-wise, it likely had to come from either Kentucky, Tennessee, or Indiana given how old it is.

Another company called Single Cask Nation did release a single barrel 24-year-old Bourbon that was declared to be from Kentucky at around the same time. That barrel spent 12 years maturing in Kentucky before being moved to the UK for the remainder of its cask life. The rumours swirling around that bottle were that it could be from the original Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, which was lost due to a massive fire on November 7th, 1996. That was the fire that led to Heaven Hill purchasing the Bernheim Distillery of Louisville, Kentucky in 1999.

So: 24-year-old Bourbon, made somewhere in the United States. Ever had a 24-year-old Bourbon? Well, this is your chance! Crafted by a mystery distillery. Could it be Four Roses? Barton? Buffalo Trace? Dickel? Who knows?!? Wherever this was made it is heavenly, standing on hills above other Bourbons both in age and, well, price. The Bourbon in question purportedly spent 12 years maturing away in the US of A and the remaining 12 years in the UK.

Producer Description From That Boutique-y Whisky Company

“Our first ever batch from this US distillery is a 24 Year Old Bourbon, a release of 8,376 bottles at 48% abv and our largest release to date! Sadly we’re not able to name this distillery, but it is a Bourbon, and so we’ll have to do some homework to establish which distilleries it could have come from.”

About the Label

Firstly there are no clues on our label at all, but any similarities to current bottlings are purely coincidental. Our label shows a peaceful scene at Area 51, complete with a sign saying "Nothing to see here", which has to be true. As we’re unable to name this long-aged Bourbon Whiskey we’ve covered our label in a few of America’s well-known mysteries. How many can you spot in our Area 51?

That Boutique-y Whisky Company - Bourbon Whiskey Batch 1 - 24 Year Old - 48%

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Leather, tobacco leaf, polished oak staves, cherry pie, peach cobbler, tangerines, smoky brisket, and chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.

Palate: Sour cherries, apple pie with a slightly burnt crust, bitter dark chocolate, caramelized brown sugar, espresso coffee, peanut brittle, and a touch of Amaretto plus hazelnut liqueur.

Finish: Spicy, smoky, and drying, but will juicy cherries and peaches, plus more dark chocolate and espresso notes.

Comment: I have tasted this dram a few times, and it is always a wonderful ride. It shows its age ...

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