Ardmore is a relatively overlooked Aberdeenshire distillery that has been existence since 1898. Built during the midst of a whisky boom in 1898 by Adam Teacher, specifically to provide malt for his family Highland Cream blended scotch. It is situated beside the Northern railway line and this ensured a convenient method of transportation, lying in-between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen. A further viable gateway south was available via the Speyside whisky railway. For most of its productive life, Ardmore was a blending component until it debuted as a single malt and is now available in a series of expressions alongside strong support from the independent bottlers.
It’s history in distilling terms is fairly mundane, inconspicuous and not to be confused with the lost distillery of the same name that existed on Islay. In the 1950’s the number of stills were doubled to 4, before these were doubled once again in 1974, resulting in today’s capacity of around 5.5 million litres. From its inception Ardmore was a fairly modern and efficient distillery, which was relatively left to its own devices with its own Saladin box maltings closing in 1976. This is a fairly late change compared to other distilleries and the rule applies once again when in 2002 the direct firing of the stills came to an end. In 2015 the distillery became even more efficient with the installation of a biomass plant on site.
As part of the internal distillery changes in 1976, various original features including the steam engine and boiler front were preserved. Around this time William Teachers & Sons became part of Allied Breweries who had a chequered history with distilleries. Jim Beam acquired Ardmore in 2005 from Allied Domecq and then set about establishing a single malt presence for the distillery. This marked the period when consumers began to engage more with single malts and specific distillery releases moving away from traditionally blended whiskies.
To meet this increased demand Jim Beam like many others turned to No Age Statement expressions. The first of these is the Ardmore Traditional Cask expression launched in 2007. This featured whisky mainly from ex-bourbon casks and with a light element of peat. Ardmore has always been an oddity in the region as it continued to produce a peated whisky in the region of 12 phenolic parts per million, while other neighbours switched to a non-peated spirit. The Traditional Cask was one of the better exponents of this genre and came at a very affordable price making it a popular and reliable option. Whilst Ardmore is peated, it does produce a non-peated variant exclusively for blending purposes called Ardlair and this accounts for nearly half of its annual output.
In 2015 Jim Beam merged with Japanese giant Suntory and this subsequently resulted in several further new no age expressions. The first of these was the Ardmore Legacy in 2014, before the Traditional was transformed into the Tradition the following year. Since then these have been joined by the Triple Wood as Ardmore’s presence grows in the market and in consumer consciousness.