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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ardmore Single Malt & Teachers Highland | Tuesday Review

By John Barecki

While searching for a handful of whiskies that are more on the affordable side, I stumbled upon a blended whisky and a very interesting single malt at the same time. The blend actually utilizes the single malt as its main flavor component, almost like a symbiotic relationship. The two whiskies in question are the Ardmore Single Malt and Teachers Highland Cream.

The Ardmore is a special kind of single malt. Being distilled in the Highland/Speyside region of Scotland, it is first aged in second-fill bourbon barrels and then a portion is placed into a quarter cask, which is a quarter the size of a full cask. Doing so creates more substantial wood contact thus contributing a higher amount of wood tones in the final product. I call this one special because it uses a higher percentage of peat than most highland malts. The peat comes from the Highland region itself and creates a smokey flavor reminiscent of hickory, having more savory qualities opposed to the medicinal notes that tend to come with peat from the Islay region.

This malt is also bottled at 46% (92 proof) and as I continue tasting different malts, I find those that have a higher proof usually have a more well-rounded flavor compared to the traditional 80 proof bottling. On the nose this malt has a full succulent aroma, rich with spicy and woody tones. The flavors burst on the palate, oily and full of savory delights. Honeyed barley gives way to an almost olive like taste which is surrounded by a smoky and peaty tang, followed by fine vanilla notes. The finish is full of peat and long lingering. This is a very complex oddity in the single malt range and does not disappoint.

My second review is the blended malt that uses the Ardmore as its "fingerprint malt": Teachers Highland Cream. This blend uses 45% single malt in its blend, making it one of the highest malt to grain whisky ratios on the blended market, the reason being so the character of the whisky is more well rounded. The mouthfeel is full and malt driven, lots of barley and honey followed by a well-rounded smoke. Wood tones run softly throughout the middle and culminate with a gathering of apple and pear notes on the finish. This whisky utilizes the highland malt characteristics from the Ardmore single malt, as well as its huge complexities to create a truly wonderful experience at a great price point as well.

Ardmore Single Malt ($36.99/750ml) and Teachers Highland Cream ($16.99/750ml) are both available at Siciliano's Market.

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