Scottish Drive-by 2021, Part 4/6: Ardnamurchan

Following on from Part 3,…. with a full blue sky and little to no breeze, Raasay’s harbour in the early morning is a picture postcard. We are bordering heatwave territory in Scotland once again. I swear it’s rained only twice in all the years I’ve been coming here.

Now back on Skye, we head straight to Armadale, swiftly passing Torabhaig on the way through.

CalMac Ferries website is less than ideal but we manage to get a later-than-advertised ferry on standby. By the time we reach Mallaig on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, Wayne’s battery is flat. It’s a reoccurring theme and mild source of amusement.

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Ardnamurchan’s windy single track road[s] make for an intense driving experience of which I’m not a fan. With miles and miles of bends, passing places, and blind spots, the eta on the sat-nav creeps up & up despite maintaining momentum in a forward direction. I find the whole journey very tedious, but then I dislike driving in general. The peninsular itself is gorgeous.

Eventually, we are at our destination. On this scorching bright day, the white-washed Ardnamurchan distillery and its light shingle carpark is a dazzling sight indeed.

This is one bonkers-remote place for a distillery which [yawn] is closed to visitors, and we’ve no cask-owner privileges like we did at Raasay. We do, however, get to try Ardnamurchan’s 5th standard release with a batch size of 19998 bottles. A ‘bespoke’ 5004 bottle-batch went across the pond earlier in the year [WB].

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Ardnamurchan AD/07.21:05 [2021] Ob. Release #5 46.8% WB85.57[9] WF87 2WB

DJ, who appeared in a recent on-location vPub, tells us that this is comprised of “plenty of 5 & 6 yo malt”, with a spirit mix of 50:50 peated & unpeated spirit and a cask maturation ratio of 65% bourbon and 35% sherry casks.

  • N: Incredibly accomplished whisky in contrast to many of the new generation 3yo+ malts being released with frequency at this moment in time. With zero immaturity showing, this is a well-rounded straw-like barley-forward single malt with decent weight and suggested [phenolic] complexities that will no doubt evolve as the years roll along.
  • T: Idiosyncratic greasy dry-toasted barley-faithful arrival continuing through with a relaxed ‘minerallic’ softness. It’s also [cracked] peppery, in a very desirable way too.
  • F: Good shape/form throughout. The peatiness shows strongly at the tail with a light ‘fush-fush’ vanilla < creaminess, the finish fairly long and ever-faithful to its straw-to-honeyed trajectory.
  • C: You can see this one still improving at 10+ years.

Scores 85 points

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Adelphi Blended Scotch Whisky [2021] Ob. Private Stock 40% WB81.33[3]

A £20 blended Scotch from Adelphi? What could possibly go wrong?

  • N, T, F: The 60% [Lowland] grain element dominates over the 40% malt – Islay & Speyside we are told though I’ve heard/read differing reports. I’m guessing North British and Coal Ila for starters. Aside from being uber clean, there’s nothing much to this.
  • C: Faultless if uneventful.

Scores 78 points

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Small reward for our pilgrimage, but bravo to Roy for his V-pub on location just a week or so later.

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After yet more winding after winding roads accompanied by breathtaking glistening views,…

,… we find a campsite for the night, situated on a rather steep hill. This will prove a challenge [for some] later in the night.

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I kickstart this evening’s proceedings with a Talisker 18yo – a fine dram for any occasion [WF89 no less] – followed by that 4yo Loch Lomond that Wayne had generously bestowed on me a few nights before [WLP]. I am continually grateful. This is appropriately followed with:

Glen Garioch 2007/2019 11yo Ob. Hand-filled cask #57 [btl #197/ ] 55.2% WB87.25[6]

Dist: 25/01/07, Bottled: 21/01/19 – 4 days short of 12 full years.

  • C: Excellent, clean, fresh malt – a livener/stiffener. No grumbles with this one whatsoever. It’s all about the distillate.

Scores 86 points

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Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or [2021] Ob. Sauternes cask finish 46% WB83.40[130]

  • C: Lovely take on standard Glenmorangie, this sauternes version is a pleasing light crisp-ish citrus-sweet, summery dram, perfectly suitable for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Scores 85 points

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Wayne and Morag’s amazing hosting skills kick into gear once again. Morag invites a young Polish biker to joins us, though he stays sober for the duration with his carton of OJ. Well done him for putting up with our drunken nonsense. There’s more to come!

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Glenfarclas 21yo [2021] Ob. 43% [20cl] WB85.59[1251] WF83

  • N: After some less-than-adequate Glenfarclas experiences of late [WLP], this is the Glenfarclas I know and love – stylistically that is – though incredibly, I’ve never before tried the 21yo in its own right. This is a fresher, less fusty Glenfarclas [of old], with a bready citrusy complex. Furthermore, this one’s moreish consolidated sherry influence is noted.
  • T: Lovely,… not too complex, just so with a relaxed freshness/[modern] youthfulness throughout,.. slightly metallic,…
  • F: Though fresh to the last, nothing is overt, it’s all [again] ‘just so’ in a comfortable rounded/consolidated way. The relaxed freshness resides.
  • C: Pleasing easy drinker which doth’s one’s hat to the past & present rather well. Much like the GlenMo but for different reasons, I’d recommend this to beginners and enthusiasts alike. Incredibly, it’s just €78 on the mainland! Lucky Europeans.

Scores 86 points

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Glenfarclas 15yo [2021] Ob. 46% [20cl] WB84.55[1551] [WF]84 WM82[6]

  • N: Unlike the 18yo Glenfarclas I berated last year [WLP], with this 15yo [and the 21yo], you can detect the sherry influence, albeit light. This one has seen a cask maturation policy that promotes/utilises the additional desirable sherry elements whilst allowing the spirit to shine. Furthermore, there’s a nice balance between youth and maturity here: tradition < modernisation if you will. That contemporary bottling strength hasn’t gone unnoticed either.
  • T: A mix of oloroso and PX I’d say, yet with no obtrusive cask management ‘tricksiness’. It’s the barley spirit that shines through, a squidgy floury fluffiness,…
  • F: ,… into [grassy] confectionary notes to barley sugar. Job’s a good un’.
  • C: As good if not better [more composed/sculpted] than the more contemporary 21yo, we’ve high quality all round.

Scores 87 points

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It’s late now and the alcohol is taking its toll. Not unlike that chiminea-ed Ardbeg [WLP], the entire cheese board with its pickles et al finds its way into the fire. Almost the entire obliterated cheese wheel, which I attempt to dress up and present as a fine-dining baked Camembert, is devoured. I take a chunk out of a charcoaled roll for the second time in as many weeks?! Activated charcoal is good for you don’t you know?

Reminiscent of the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling Competition, the combination of alcohol and steep hill camping reaches its ultimate conclusion, though in this situation, the cheese is inside the man!

Much like at the beginning of my road trip [Day 1], I find myself yet again a part of the rowdy campers group that, no doubt, peeps will gossip about when we leave. Rockstars!

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END

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