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This distillery just released its first-ever single-malt Scotch whisky

Scotch fans have eagerly awaited this release for five years

Ardnahoe
Ardnahoe

If you’re new to the world of whisk(e)y, you might not know that Scotch whisky is broken up into five distinct regions. They are Campbeltown, the Lowlands, the Highlands, Speyside, and Islay. Campbeltown is literally just a town, but the other regions make up a fairly large geographical area of the country. With one other exception: Islay.

Islay is an island in the Inner Hebrides that is filled with thousands of sheep, various Highland cows, around 3,000 people, and nine distilleries. Known for its smoky, peaty whiskies, Islay is home to big names like Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Cao Ila, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and most recently Ardnahoe.

What’s in a name?

Scotch
Andrew Seaman/Unsplash

Named for Loch Ardnahoe, the distillery opened in 2019. And since there’s no magical way to make whisky age without putting it into a barrel and waiting for it, they had nothing to show for all of their hard work. Owned by Glasgow-based independent bottler Hunter Laing, the distiller had breathtaking views of the Sound of Islay. But if you wanted to sample any whisky, you’d have to choose something from the company’s portfolio.

That is until earlier this month. The first distillery to open since Kilchoman in 2005 (and the first new distillery built since 1908) finally released a single malt. It’s simply called The Ardnahoe Inaugural Release, and single malt fans are (not surprisingly) very excited.

The Ardnahoe Inaugural Release

Ardnahoe
Ardnahoe

This first expression from Islay’s ninth distillery, The Ardnahoe Inaugural Release, was distilled and began aging in 2018 before the distillery officially opened to the public. The first release from Ardnahoe matured for a full five years in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks.

This limited-release expression sits at a potent 50% ABV (100-proof). There’s no artificial color. The caramel hue of this whisky is all thanks to the two previously mentioned barrels. It’s also non-chill-filtered. Many drinkers prefer whiskies that aren’t chill-filtered because, even though the process is known to remove impurities, many people believe it removes flavor as well.

What does it taste like?

A glass of scotch and a glass of whiskey separated by a lit candle.
Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash / Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

If you’re a fan of Islay single malts, you’re likely pretty excited to dive into the inaugural release from the island’s newest distillery. And rightly so. But if you do get your hands on a bottle, make sure you do a proper tasting to find all the flavors and aromas. If you start with the nose, you’ll find notes of orchard fruits, shortbread, vanilla beans, dried fruits, and robust peat smoke.

The palate is a symphony of candied orange peels, ginger candy, vanilla beans, orchard fruits, caramelized sugar, oak, and more peat smoke. The finish is warming, sweet, and very smoky. This is the kind of single malt whisky that you’ll want to sip neat on a cool night very slowly.

How much does it cost?

Ardnahoe
Ardnahoe

The bad news is that due to its limited availability, you’ll probably have a tough time finding a bottle. It has a suggested retail price of £70 (about $85), and you can grab a bottle if you hop a flight to the tiny, misty island and stop by Ardnahoe’s distillery visitor center or at select retailers in the UK and internationally. There are some online retailers, like The Whisky Shop, that sell to U.S. customers, though.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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