Expedition – Ardgowan Distillery

Expedition is the recently released expression from Ardgowan distillery. As the distillery is yet to be built, this is obviously sourced whisky from elsewhere.

As soon as I poured this into the glass, the aromas were suggesting something quite promising. The first few sniffs delivered a really pleasant nose; clearly some sherry cask influence but by no means a sherry bomb. On the palate, this was really well balanced and very drinkable. For me, this is perhaps where the problem lies; a bottle of Expedition will set you back £500 so I imagine that the chances of many of them being opened to be drunk are slim. This is clearly a release aimed at those who’ll buy whisky to collect rather than open, pour, drink and maybe even share.

Over on Malt, Adam’s piece on new distilleries pricing themselves out of relevance makes for interesting reading. With this in mind and being a proud citizen of Leith, I’ve been following the progress and journey of the soon to be built Crabbie’s distillery. Although the Crabbie’s name carries a certain degree of provenance as a whisky brand of the past, there are still some parallels with other distilleries which have yet to be built and are still in the planning. The Crabbie’s recent releases are, of course, single malts sourced from other distilleries. However, the portfolio so far includes bottlings with 8 years, 12 years, 28 years and 30 years age statements – ranging from £30 to £500, which pretty much covers all customer bases. I think it’s a savvy move and with Ardgowan planning to release a series of limited edition single malts with 8 years age statements around the £50 mark, it looks as though they’ll take a similar route.

This whisky itself is a 20 year blended malt and limited to 600 bottles. All we’re told regarding the components is that it includes whisky from casks from upper Speyside and the northern Highlands. The name, Expedition, derives from the fact that every bottle contains whisky which has travelled to the South Pole and back, carried by the explorer Robert Swan and his son Barney during their South Pole Energy Challenge. You can find out more here: Expedition

Expedition (Blended Malt)  – 20 years – 46%

Nose: a very pleasant first impression. There’s a distinct sherry cask influence which is by no means overwhelming. There are notes of milk chocolate, almonds and stewed apples. After a while, hints of pencil sharpenings come to the fore followed by subtle notes of tinned clementines and Bakewell tart.

Palate:  this has a slightly oily texture. Some of the tannins come through but not until the finish; it’s drying but not overly so. It’s a very well balanced blended malt; all the components seem to be playing together nicely and there isn’t any one standout element. There are notes of Ginger Nuts and those tinned clementines mentioned earlier. It’s slightly nutty, maybe some chocolate covered brazils. Into the finish, there’s a slight hint of blackcurrant which subsides fairly quickly.

Overall this is a pleasant, easy going and very drinkable whisky. From a taste point of view, it’s extremely accessible. However, at £500 I won’t be running out to buy a bottle but then this isn’t really aimed at the likes of me. I’m looking forward to the next release from Ardgowan next year which should be within my price range.

Many thanks to Ardgowan distillery for the sample.


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