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Distillery in Focus:          Ardmore
Region: Highlands
Name: Ardmore ("Big Height")
Status: Active
Website: http://www.ardmorewhisky.com/
Telephone: +44 (0)1464 831213
E-Mail: n.a.
Address: Kennethmont, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, AB54 4NH
Visitor centre: To be inaugurated in 2017.
Owner: Beam Suntory
Established in 1898

Technical details:
Water source: 15 springs on Knockandy Hill
Malted barley: Various local Scottish Maltings (Bairds Malt, Inverness / Crisp Malt, Portgordon / Boort Malt, Buckie), all peated to 12-14 ppm using peat from St Fergus (Aberdeenshire)
Malt hoppers: 1300 tons.
Mill: Boby Patent Two high Malt Mill (mid 1930's)
Mash tun: Cast Iron Mashtun with semi-lauter gear, topped by 8 m diameter
copper dome. 12.48 tonne standard mash, 24 mashes per week.
Washbacks: 14 Douglas Fir wooden washbacks: 4 of 90,000 L and 10 of 45,000 L capacity
Yeast: Mauri & Kerry (2:1)
Fermentation: 53 h
Stills: 4 wash (15,000 L) and 4 spirit stills (15,500 L)
Warehouses: 65% Dunnage (28,500 casks)
35% Racked (13,500 casks)
Production capacity: 5.5 mio LPA
Employees: 21 (full time and part time)
Casks used for maturation:
Ardmore traditionnal: bourbon (American Oak) and quarter casks.
For the Teacher's blend: European Oak Puncheons
Contribute(d) to the following blends: Teachers, Ballantine's

The distillery of Ardmore in 2011

 

and a hundred years ago, shortly after its construction (1905)

 

Regular Bottling:

Ardmore Traditional cask 46%

Other bottlings:

An Ardmore 15 YO for the Teacher's Director (45.7%) has been bottled a few decades ago, since then, there has been a 12 YO 43% and a 21 YO 43% were released in 1998 for the centenary of the distillery. More recently, a 25 YO was released and a 30 YO for the US market.

For the tasted whiskies, click here


Several of the official Ardmore: 15 YO Director's, Ardmore 30 YO (US only), Ardmore 25 YO and the Ardmore Traditional cask

History of the Ardmore Distillery

William Teacher and Sons were looking for building a distillery to provide malt for their Teacher’s Highland Cream blended whisky.  Land was acquired in 1895 at Kennethmont and building of the distillery started in 1897. Adam Teacher, the remaining son of the founder of William Teacher’s & Sons died the same year as the construction of the distillery was started (1898). Work was completed the next year, in 1899, with the production starting in spring. The name of the distillery, Ardmore, was influence by Ardmore Point, a spit of land, close to village Rhu, home of the Teacher’s family.

William Teacher and Sons was incorporated as a limited company in 1923.

In 1927, the floor maltings were expanded.
During WWII, the distillery is used by the army for food storage, including a butchery.

In order to increase the output, an extension and modification program was initiated in 1953 with the installation of 4 Saladin boxes and additional bins.The extension was completed in 1955 with the addition of 2 new stills (total 4), enabling to increase the output of 4x compared to 1898. A dried-soluble plant was opened in 1962 (evaporating and drying plant). A biological purification plant is installed in 1967.

Efficiency was further increased in 1969 when the old mash tun was replaced,  the number of washbacks increase from 4 to 6, then to 8 and finally to 10. Worms tubs were replaced by condensers. The capacity of the distillery is further expanded in 1974 with the number of stills expended from 4 to 8,  4 additional washbacks, new malt stores, wash and feints chargers, etc. to eventually double the production capacity to 1.5 mio gallons (5.2 mio LPA).
In 1976, Teachers became part of the Allied Breweries and the distillery operated as a subsidiary of Teacher (Distillers) Ltd.

The distillery traditional stills were only converted to indirect firing, by steam heated coils and pans, rather than directly by coal, until April 2001.Its own Saladin maltings operated until 1975. Afterwards, the malted barley was sourced from the Moray firth Maltings (now Bairds Maltings), using the same peat source as previously (New Pitsiglo near St Fergus).  The malt is medium peated (12-14 ppm) , but once a year, a non-peated malt called Ardlair is produced. The whisky was only occasionally bottled a single malt until 2007, when the Ardmore traditional cask was released two years after the purchase of Allied Domecq by Beam Global. The record of production is reached in 2008 with 5,2 mio LPA.
In 2011, the re-reroofing of the warehouses is initiated (cost of the program: 1mio £).

Source: Alistair Longwell Ardmore Distillery Manager, The Scotch whisky industry record by H. Charles Craig, A family of Spirit, by Geogffrey E. Cousins, The Scotch Whisky Distilleries by Misako Udo, Ardmore Distillery: A portrait by Ian Macilwain
Patrick Brossard © 21Feb2012. Last update: 25th Nov 2016.

The old steam engine

 

The washbacks
The still house with its 8 stills
Some quarter caks in one warehouse where the Ardmore traditionnal cask is undergoing its final maturation

Tasted whiskies:

Official/original bottlings (OB)  
Age  
Ardmore 12 YO 100th Anniversary, OB, 40%, B: 1999 Rating: 17/20
Ardmore 25 YO, OB, 51.4%, B: 2009 Rating: 17/20
   
Vintages  
   
No Age Specified (NAS)  
The Ardmore Legacy, OB, 40%, B:2014 Rating: 14/20
Ardmore traditional cask, NAS, OB, 46%, OB, B: 2007 Rating: 13/20
Ardmore traditional cask, NAS, OB, 46%, OB, B: 2011 Rating: 16/20

 

Independent bottlings (IB)  
   
Adelphi  
Ardmore 1992, 18 YO, Adelphi, 50.7%,B: 2011, c. 4998, 267 b. Rating: 16/20
Ardmore 2000, 14 YO, Adelphi, OB, 55.6%, B:2014, c. 245, 157 b. Rating: 11/20
   
Anam na b-alba  
Ardmore 2000, 14 YO, Anam na b-alba, 52.9%, B:2014, c. 800219, 88 b. Rating: 14/20
   
Archives (whiskybase)  
Ardmore 1992, 20 YO, Archives, 48.6%, B:2012, c. 4764, 80 b. Rating: 15/20
   
Auld Alliance  
Ardmore 1992, 20 YO, The Auld Alliance, 51.3%, B:2013, 218 b. Rating: 17/20
   
Cadenhead's  
Ardmore 1965 Dumpy Dark Label, 18 YO, Cadenhead’s, 45.7% (80 Proof), B:1984. Rating: 14/20
Ardmore 1977, 17 YO, Cadenhead's, 59.6% Rating: 18/20
Ardmore 1977, 24 YO, Cadenhead’s, 58.6%, B: 2002, 636 b. Rating: 17/20
Ardmore 1978 Authentic Collection, 19 YO, Cadenhead’s, 59%, B:1998. Rating: 11/20
Ardmore 1997 Small Batch, 16 YO, Cadenhead’s  55.2%, B: 2014 Rating: 15/20
   
Douglas Laing  
Ardmore 1977 OMC sherry, 30 YO, D. Laing, 50%, B: 2007, ref #3514, 427 b. Rating: 16/20
Ardmore 1979 OMC, 21 YO, D. Laing, 50%, B: 2001, 648 b. Rating: 17/20
Ardmore OMC 1996, 11 YO, D. Laing, 50%, B: 2007, 364 b., Ref 4215 Rating: 13/20
Ardmore 1996 OMC, 12 YO, D. Laing, 50%, B: 2009, ref 1139 Rating: 15/20
Ardmore Old Particular 2000, 15 YO, D. Laing, 48.4%, B:2015. Rating: 14/20
   
Exclusive Malts (David Stirk)  
Ardmore 1992, 18 YO, Exclusive Malts, 44.1%, c. 5016, 292 b. Rating: 17/20
Ardmore 2009 10th Anniversary, 5 YO, Exclusive Malts, 56.7%, B:2015, 265 b. Rating: 15/20
   
First Editions, the  
Ardmore 1996, 20 YO, The First Editions, 50.1%, B:2016 Rating: 12/20
   
Gordon & MacPhail  
Ardmore 1993 Whisky-online Exclusive, 22 YO, G&M, 49.9%, B:2015, c. 5750. Rating: 16/20
   
Jack Wiebers  
Ardmore 13 YO World of Orchids, Jack Wieber, 57.0%,  B: 2013, 119 b. Rating: 13/20
   
James MacArthur  
Ardmore 1980, 18 YO, J. McArthur, 51.4%, B: 1998, C.3005 Rating: 17/20
Ardmore 2000, 14 YO, James MacArthur, 58.3%, B: 2014, c.215. Rating: 10/20
   
Gordon & Macphail  
Ardmore 1990, Gordon & MacPhail, 55.8%, B: c2005 Rating: 16/20
   
La Maison du Whisky  
Ardmore 1990, LMDW, 58.5%, B: 2007, Cask 30103, 287 b. Rating: 15/20
   
Pearls of Scotland  
Ardmore 1988, 23 YO, Pearls of Scotland, 45%, B: 2014, c. 2455 Rating: 15/20
   
Samaroli  
Ardmore 1977 35th Anniversary, Samaroli, 45%, B: 2003, c. 7631, 736 b. Rating: 16/20
   
Scott's selection  
Ardmore 1977, Scott’s selection, 58.1%, B: 2007 Rating: 16/20
   
Signatory  
Ardmore, 10 YO, Signatory, 43%, c. 1351/2 585 b, Rating: 14/20
Ardmore 1977, 23 YO, Signatory, 58.1%, cask 1183, 306 b. Rating: 17/20
Ardmore 1990, 17 YO, Signatory, 59.7%, B: 2007, c. 30019, 199 b. Rating: 11/20
Ardmore Wine Treated Barrel 1990, 20 YO, Signatory, 61.6%, B: 2010, c. 30118, 355 b. Rating: 14/20
   
Single Malts of Scotland (Speciality Drinks)  
Ardmore 1992, 19 YO, SMOS, 49.3%, B: 2011, 207 b. Rating: 15/20
Ardmore Heavily Peated 1994, 12 YO, SMOS, 58.6%. B: 2006, cask 58005, 286 bottles Rating: 15/20
   
Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)  
Ardmore 1985 66.20, 20 YO, SMWS, 54.1%, B:2005. Rating: 15/20
Ardmore 1985 66.25, 22 YO, SMWS, 52.3%. B: 2007 Rating: 15/20
Ardmore 1985 66.30, 24 YO, SMWS, 52.5%, B: 2009, 244 b. Rating: 17/20
Ardmore 1998 66.82, 17 YO, SMWS, 57.5%, B:2016. Rating: 14/20
Ardmore 2002 66.36, 10 YO, SMWS, 58.2%, B: 2012, 702 b. Rating: 15/20
   
The Whisky Agency  
Ardmore 1992, 18 YO, TWA, 49.9%, B: 2010, 212 b. Rating: 18/20
Ardmore 2000 Heavily Peated, 14 YO, Liquid Library, 49.8%, B:2014, 289 b. Rating: 13/20
   
Whiskybroker  
Ardmore 2001, 13 YO, Whiskybroker, 56.4%, B: 2014 Rating: 16/20
   
The Whisky Cask  
Ardmore 2000, 13 YO, The Whisky Cask, 57%, B: 2013 Rating: 16/20
   
Whisky Doris  
Ardmore 1992, 19 YO, Whisky Doris, 49.6%, B: 2011, 197 b. Rating: 17/20
   
Wilson & Morgan  
Ardmore Heavily Peated 2011, Wilson & Morgan, 48%, B:2016 Rating: 16/20
   
Van Wees  
Ardmore 1999, 11 YO, Van Wees, 46%, B:2010, c. 801159. Rating: 12/20