van Wees is a Dutch independent bottler. While less well-known than larger operations like Signatory or Gordon & Macphail, they have a strong reputation for producing good values. Recently they've been releasing more sub-10 year old single malts, which are often priced below €40. It's difficult to find many single cask bottlings in that range, so they're a nice opportunity to sample new whiskies without breaking the bank.
This was distilled at Ardmore on June 24th 2008, filled into a bourbon barrel, then bottled on October 29th 2014 at 46% without coloring or chill filtration.
Thanks to Michael Kravitz for the sample.
van Wees The Ultimate Ardmore 6 Year 2008/2014 Cask #800067
Nose: new make character - becoming more herbal/floral with time, plastic, Ardmore peat smoke, bourbon cask berries/fruit, mild oak, seashells/seashore, vanilla malt, cinnamon. After adding a few drops of water the new make/plastic character returns for a bit, but smoothes out once again - the cinnamon integrates, the peat becomes sootier/more earthy, the berries are less apparent and fold into the malt, while the oak, floral, and coastal notes are slightly amplified.
Taste: unidimensional sweetness begins up front and carries through almost to the end, joined by moderate oak tannins, dry malt, orange/citrus peel, unsweetened chocolate, and peat smoke right at the back. After dilution the sweetness extends further back and the oak comes in earlier, some green overtones show up, but everything is a bit muted - especially the peat smoke, turning into a bit of a muddled mess at the back.
Finish: thin, malt, lingering peat smoke, a touch of oak, chocolate
This is young and shows it. While some of the new make character burns off with time in the glass, it never entirely disappears. Water helped to integrate some of the off-notes, but made the whole thing too muddled. If there's not a lot going on, there aren't a ton of flaws either. It's comparable in price to the now watered down Ardmore Legacy and should hit a lot of the same notes. If you're looking for a cheap peated whisky that doesn't require a lot of attention, you could do far worse than this van Wees Ardmore. Just hold the water.