Release 2 from Ardnamurchan came earlier in 2021 whilst everyone was still locked up inside their houses. And whilst it was not quite the bunfight of the inaugural release from 2020, it still sold out rapidly – all 14,676 bottles of it.
Following the same format at its predecessor, this is composed of ex-bourbon casks (65%), Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks (35% between the two styles) and is bottled at 5 years of age. Whether the casks are just a wee bit older this time around, or the configuration of the sherry casks has been altered, who can say – but for all intents and purposes, on paper this looks to be ‘more of the same’. However, vattings of multiple cask types rarely work that way unless at truly vast scales (where one might simply assess the first and last casks and accept that everything produced in between is likely of a similar quality).
Released for sub £50 and now available at an auction house near you. Or, just wait….I’m sure Release 3 won’t be all that far away...and indeed we're only just at the start of Ardnamurchan's journey - they'll be plenty more to experience in time.
Nose: Wax beans, lamp oil and hessian cloth are joined by earthy, undergrowth-led peat smoke – sappy and resinous. Fruits follow – lemon peels, apple slices and pear juice with a delicate floral trail following. Vanilla crème brulee and salted caramel follow together with barnyard notes of hay, grasses and flax. Dilution presents a more cereal character with Alpen, bloomer loaf and a scattering of cloves.
Taste: Clean and chiselled with a grippy weight. Honey and wax both provide a textural element whilst freshly halved apples and lemon gel sit alongside orange barley water. Salinity and minerality combine in a wafting, but clear smoke that has plenty of seaweed and coastal breeze along for the ride. In the background, ginger and pepper provide a peppy kick. The addition of water presents more herbaceous motifs with reeds and ferns together with liquorice and cloves.
Finish: Medium – sweet with apple, earthy with briny smoke and sharp with wire wool.
Ardnamurchan’s second release treads a very similar path to its predecessor – all of the fruity, peaty, mineral and herbaceous notes and flavours are present and correct. However, their configuration here feels a little constricted. In one sense, that makes for a tighter, more on the rails, experience, but on the other, it was the side-steps and divergences of AD 092001 that marked it out as being a little difference – and to my palate provided it with welcome additional appeal. Nevertheless, following the same format means you’re never going to land too far away from the target – and once again this is well-crafted, characterful, easy drinking single malt with its own distinctive character.