Review: Chieftain's Ardmore 15 Madeira Finish
Chieftain’s Ardmore 15 Yr Cask 94092
Single Malt Scotch - Highland Region, Scotland
I have known of and have been aware of the Chieftain’s line of independently bottled whiskies for some time now, but (and to my own regret) I had never made the time to sit down with any of them. Thankfully that all just changed recently after getting an opportunity to spend a quick evening tasting with Ed Kohl, Keeper of the Quaich, CEO and managing director of Quest Brands which includes Ian Macleod Distillers portfolio; where Chieftain’s expressions reside. Though the connection of the proverbial whisky dots may take a moment for you to understand at first as it did me, I can assure you that the cask selection and quality of these whiskies happened immediately upon first sip. Aside from Ed being incredibly knowledgable, friendly and obviously passionate about his whisky, his cask selection is second to none, especially with this 15 year Ardmore.
Being that Ardmore was one of the first distilleries I had ever visited in my travels to Scotland it holds a very special place in my heart to begin with, but this particular bottling has only furthered my affection. Since my first taste of their Traditional Cask many years back I was hooked on their Highland honey and heather ramped up with a bit of smoke and spice. While I do still appreciate the current Legacy bottling very much for what it is, there is still a little something left to be desired for since its replacing of the Traditional. This 15 year certainly quenches that thirst. Though it is certainly not a smokeshow in a heavily peated Islay way, the peat balanced with the natural backbone of the distillery’s characteristics is complimented very nicely with the extra Madeira cask finishing.
One the nose a gentle almost creamy style smoke, like a cold-smoke BBQ is layered with honey, green floral aromas, crisp coastal sea salt, cinnamon and hearty oak spices. Though light at first, once able to open up with some air and moving your nose around the glass, the sweeter melon and tropical fruit notes from the Madeira come out from under. The first sip is a combination of char, dried fruits and cola syrup with a very drying finish that may have you reaching for a sip of water which this whisky can take very well. A couple drops softens the initial char, moves the cola syrup sweetness further forward and accents more of the expected finishing notes from the Madeira cask. A very interesting and tasteful single malt that has solidified a new appreciation and peaked my curiosity for the rest of the Chieftain’s line and what will be coming down the road in the future.