April Fool 2022

Posted 01 April 2022 by Matt / In Ardnamurchan
The Dramble reviews The Whisky Exchange April Fool 2022

Bottle Name: April Fool 2022

ABV: 53.2%
Distillery: Ardnamurchan
Region: Highlands Age: 5

Today sees the release of The Whisky Exchange’s follow-up to last year’s April Fool release. And at a glance, it looks very much like more of the same. But whereas 2021’s release was labelled as “Extremely young, I wish I were older” this time around we have “Extremely old, I wish I were younger”. Can you guess where we’re going yet?

Using the same UV torch (included with the purchase) the 2022 edition fluoresces to reveal a 2015 5 year old Ardnamurchan. It’s still as neat as it was last time around – however I will say that there’s rather less shock and awe in finding out that something is substantially younger than implied as opposed to the other way around. But then again, that’s part and parcel of the wider conversation that needs to take place around whisky and our collective kowtowing to big age statements.

Anyhow…This TWE exclusive Ardnamurchan release of 1,600 bottles has been created from 3 unpeated 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels and 2 peated ex-oloroso hogsheads. It’s delivered at 53.2% ABV and will set you back £74.95 from the Whisky Exchange’s website and in stores from 9am today.

Last year I questioned how many would purchase the April Fool release without the information revealed by the UV torch – and whether there would be a deluge of sales immediately after TWE revealed the specifics of the whisky – a 30 year old at £150 wasn’t, and certainly still isn’t to be sniffed at. But this release is an altogether different proposition having had the age-statement equation effectively reversed.

This release is half the price and therefore will fall more easily into a wider number of drinker’s budgets. However, at the same time it’s 1/6 the age and by and large falls reasonable into what you’d expect from an exclusive release via Adelphi’s Highland distillery. Does offering an initial mystery for current market value have the same allure as something that’s seemingly a bargain? Hmmm.

Nose: Vegetal peat smoke is both earthy and also musty with barnyard. Nearing dirty, but not quite. Everything is enveloped by expressive fruits – both orchard and stone – with a medley of fresh, gels and jellies. Rich tea biscuits and tart cases sit alongside gentle pepperiness whilst wet shingle provides a backbone of alluvialness. The addition of water reveals apple strudel, scattered berries and additional farmyard notes of haylofts.

Taste: Fruit, cream and smoke. Apple juice and yellow Jolly Rancher candy join wood smoke, burnt leaves and smouldering vegetation. Shaved chocolate, toffee and crushed cashew nuts follow together with a gentle scattering of raisins. Steely minerality transforms into overt salinity whilst pepper and cinnamon are expressed alongside palpable char. Reduction adds considerable sweetness – candy canes and refined sugars – whilst dialling down on both the smoke and the minerality. It’s quite the different character.

Finish: Quite long with burnt toffee and asides of sweet apple slices.

Whilst this TWE exclusive doesn’t belie its age, it does reinforce the quality of the distillate being produced on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. The split between unpeated and peated distillate together with the combination of bourbon and sherry casks feels entirely in turn with the distillery’s intended character. As such, those who have already enjoyed Ardnamurchan releases will doubtless enjoy this one. Whilst far from the potency of some of the high 50% releases I’ve sampled to date, the ABV here demonstrates admirable restraint – not too low as to feel abated – but not to high as to reduce the expressiveness of the spirit's character. Not the slam dunk ‘great deal’ that was 2021’s April Fool – but a very good release nonetheless.

Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange

Score: 85/100

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