The first single malt release from September 2020 takes on the second release from January 2021.
I never managed to get the first bottle when it was released and promptly snapped up, but having gotten hold of a 5cl sample and a full 70cl bottle of the latest release, it felt like worthy of a comparison, even though I wasn’t expecting there to be too many differences between the pair due to their similar maturation and cask make up.
A rather clever naming policy from Ardnamurchan. With all these 01’s it almost makes it feel like everything is a first release, and with the scrum for first releases these days, the cynic in me says that is a rather clever ploy. The name convention they have gone with contains the month of release as the first number, followed by the year of release and then the final 01 presumably refers to it being the first release of that month. I’d be surprised if they started doing more than one a month!
Ardnamurchan are keen on transparency in their whisky, something us malt fans can certainly get on board with. They use blockchain technology and QR codes you can scan with your mobile phone to reveal a whole host of data such as, bottle number, the entire making process from barley used to distillation, as well as the make up of casks that go into the bottle you are drinking.
The latest release is made up of peated and unpeated casks filled in 2014 and 2015, which means we can be fairly safe in saying this is 5 year old whisky, with it being a January 2021 release. Similar criteria can be applied to the first release, which was also made up of peated and unpeated casks from 2014 and 2015.
Priced at around £45, some would argue it is rather pricey for such young whisky, where as others would say it was fair for a new release at a decent ABV. My opinion lies somewhere in between. The best way to find out if that price is too much or not is to try the liquid and see. The rate at which they have been selling out and re-selling on the crazy secondary market, suggests they could have charged even more!
Nose : A sweet nose with lemon, apple and vanilla notes. Earthy and a little minerally. Bread dough.
Palate : Quite spirity at first and a little drop of water calms that down nicely. Vanilla, oak and juicy citrus flavours with candle wax there too. The peat influence is subtle, but the smoke is there particularly later on. Pepper spice and salt dominate in the moderate length finish.
Nose : This one isn’t as quick to open up as the earlier release. It benefits from water and time for sure, but the wait is worthwhile. Sweet, barley sugar. Creamy vanilla custard with caramalised oranges and lemons. That doughy note is there again along with some salt
Palate : Not quite as spirity on the palate as the first release, but still benefits from a drop of water. Juicy citrus fruits with black pepper spice and salt come through. There are subtle smoky notes at the end too, more so than the first release.
Conclusions : As you can imagine with these being two very similar aged releases, there are a huge amount more similarities than there are differences.
At first nosing I was sure I was going to prefer the first release over the second, but the second release does open up more given time.
I enjoy the waxy character in the palate of the inaugural release, where as the second is a little more fruity and rounded.
They are both good young whiskies and show the potential of Ardnamurchan really well. Having tried them I feel I can safely park Ardnamurchan for a few years and look forward to coming back to it when they start releasing older whiskies in the future, safe in the knowledge that they are going to be good experiences.
My scores may seem a little harsh given the reception this whisky has received, but there is still some way to go before they reach their full potential, which I am sure the distillery is well aware of. Both are good single malt experiences and a tie is a fair result.
AD/09.20:01 – 6.5/10
AD/01.21:01 – 6.5/10