I feel this is by far the best whisky in the standard Auchentoshan portfolio, and it is one of the best Auchentoshans ever released. It’s delicious, nicely balanced, and with lovely depth for a Lowland whisky. Baked muffins, creamy vanilla, honey, and caramel blend nicely with delicate fruit notes (lemon, red current, strawberries). An impeccably balanced whisky. Similar to the 10 year old reviewed below, but with greater depth and a drier finish.
Aged in first and (mostly) second fill sherry casks. The sherry is kept in balance and does not mask Auchentoshan’s subtle beauty. The classic Auchentoshan creamy, grassy, freshness abounds, complemented by honey-soaked almonds, cereal grain, and an array of bright fruit (citrus, sultana, mandarin). Not as polished as the Auchentoshan 21 year old, but quite entertaining. (420 bottles for the U.S.)
Amber color, with gold hues. Soft, subtly seductive aromas of creamy vanilla, crème brulee, tropical fruit, oak, and a hint of mint. Light to medium in body-silky in texture at first, then becoming and firm. On the palate, the whisky starts out gently sweet, with creamy vanilla and honeyed malt. Subtle tropical fruit notes arrive mid palate. The whisky then begins to dry out fairly rapidly (this is a 36 year old Lowland after all), as dry resinous notes of vanilla, mint, and herbs reveal themselves. The whisky finishes dry, with notes of soft leather. The way the owners of Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch are handling vintage bottlings now is that specialty retailer orders an entire cask and sells it exclusively. This one is a Sam's exclusive. It's older than the previous, widely distributed 1966 bottling and less expensive too! You wouldn't expect a triple distilled Lowland whisky to age so gracefully. Auchentoshan is an exception to the rule. It has acquired the depth and maturity from extensive aging, yet it still manages to maintain its distillery character and Lowland gentility. Only on the dry finish does it really show its age. But that's a small price to pay for an otherwise very good single cask whisky at a very reasonable price for 36 years old.
The latest release in Auchentoshan’s 1970s Vintage Series is this expression, distilled on October 22, 1979 and matured in first-fill oloroso sherry butts for 32 years. Just 1,000 bottles are available (12 bottles for the U.S.). Sweet on the nose, with furniture polish, digestive biscuits, cinnamon, and a faint whiff of old leather. Big tropical fruit notes open the palate, soon turning to smoky blackcurrants, tea, and rich fruit loaf. The finish is spicy, featuring black pepper, tobacco, dark berries, and plain chocolate.
Twelve of the world’s leading bartenders collaborated to create this limited release. Whiskies chosen spanned five decades, and were aged in various oak barrels, including American and German, as well as rum, red wine, and Laphroaig casks. The nose is rich and fruity, with Jaffa oranges, apricots, caramel, and soft ginger. Voluptuous on the palate, with nectarines, Brazil nuts, nutmeg, and honey. Warming spices in the lengthy finish, with lingering nectarine notes.
Three Wood has been a key part of Auchentoshan’s portfolio since 2002. It was matured in bourbon, then finished in oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks. Orange peel, dried apricots, milk chocolate, and fresh-sawn oak on the nose. Toffee, stewed fruits, sherry, cinnamon, and wood spice on the palate. The finish is quite long, with malt, oak, and dark chocolate.
This 38 year old Travel Retail-exclusive expression has been aged in bourbon casks, and not chill filtered. It follows an initial batch of the same vintage, released in 2011. The nose is perfumed, with a resin note and developing vanilla and caramel popcorn. Demerara sugar and oak. Very fruity on the palate, with oranges and lemons, emerging spices, and benign oak. Long in the finish, with fruity oak. The additional maturation has given the fruity elements a greater profundity. (500 bottles)
This 1977 ‘house’ vintage expression has been matured for 32 years in oloroso sherry casks. Just 240 bottles have been produced. Delicate, sweet, and floral on the nose, with old leather, caramel, vanilla, and malt. The caramel deepens with time. The palate is initially sweet, smooth, and malty, with pear drops; becoming nuttier, with soft oak in the medium-length finish. £370 Currently not available in the U.S.
The latest triple distilled bottling from the Lowland distillery of Auchentoshan has been matured for 35 years in bourbon casks and is presented non-chill filtered and at cask strength. Just 500 bottles are available globally. Apple crumble and custard on the nose, with developing cereal notes. Smooth and enticing. Spice, fresh fruits, honey, and marzipan on the buttery palate, which ultimately becomes drier. The finish is long and discreetly drying, with spices, malted barley, and a citrus tang in the tail. Price is approximate.
This staple bottling is aged primarily in bourbon barrels, along with a modest portion from sherry casks. The nose yields tropical fruit, hazelnuts, caramelized sugar, and cereal notes. On the palate there’s barley, vanilla, coconut milk, a hint of sherry, light oak, and ginger. The medium-length finish offers black tea and black pepper. An ideal stepping-stone from bourbon to single malt scotch. Best Values
This is the second batch of Silveroak 1990 from Auchentoshan, and it has benefited from an extra year of maturation in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. The 22 year old is exclusive to Travel Retail outlets. Notably floral on the nose, with fudge, banana, ginger, and attractive oak. On the palate it delivers vanilla, apricots, apples, more ginger, and oak. The finish is long and spicy, with dark coffee notes and a hint of menthol. Greater complexity than its predecessor.
Langside Distillers (distilled at Auchentoshan) 16 year old, 48%
Single Malt Scotch | $97
Distilled in October 1997 and aged in a single refill hogshead, 360 bottles were released in 2014 as part of Langside’s Distiller’s Art range. The nose is mildly herbal, with green wood, heather, and developing soft toffee notes. Soft and gently spiced on the palate, with hazelnuts, and peaches in cream. The finish is relatively long, with milk chocolate, and tingling sweet spices. £62
Wemyss Malts Lemon Zest 1998 (distilled at Auchentoshan), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $126
Wemyss Malts has bottled several single cask Auchentoshans in the past, and this 15 year old release is of 342 bottles, provided by a bourbon barrel. Peaches, caramel, sea salt, and developing lemonade on the nose. Sweet and fruity on the palate, with more peaches and very soft background spices. The finish dries slowly, with ginger and a hint of aniseed. £75
Wemyss Malts Tarte au Citron (distilled at Auchentoshan) 1998, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
The latest single cask expression of Auchentoshan from Wemyss Malts is 14 years old and was matured in a bourbon barrel. The outturn is 342 bottles. The nose is fleetingly herbal; then offers crème de citron, turning to tinned peaches in syrup, and finally pine and peppery caramel. Silky-smooth in the mouth, spicy, with lemon and digestive biscuits. Freshly-squeezed lemon lingers in the chili and chocolaty finish. £78
When compared to its younger siblings, this whisky is deeper in flavor. The citrus becomes more dominant (glazed orange, tangerine marmalade), with added notes of caramelized nuts and maple syrup. A good dash of dried spices kicks in and the whisky becomes firm and dry on the finish. My favorite of the standard range is still the 21 year old expression, which has been around for quite some time.
Auchentoshan has launched a range of travel retail-exclusive bottlings with names relating to oak, including Heartwood, which is matured in a mix of deeply-charred former bourbon and toasted oloroso sherry casks. Soft, medium sherry notes on the nose; stem ginger, cinnamon, parma violets, and clove-studded oranges. The palate features wood polish, old leather, plain chocolate, cloves, and ginger. Dates and spicy orange marmalade on the lengthy finish. €50
Douglas Laing (distilled at Auchentoshan) 11 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $62
This expression of Auchentoshan from Douglas Laing’s Provenance range was distilled in September 2000, matured in bourbon casks, and bottled in November 2012. Opens very sweet on the nose, with vanilla, peaches, and apricots, plus allspice. More caramel in time. Medium bodied, with sweet fruits, new-mown hay, and hard toffee on the palate, giving way to spice and aniseed. The spicy finish features cloves, and dries steadily, with a final flourish of pepper. £40
It always amazes me how well this triple-distilled Lowland whisky ages. The best ones are in their twenties and thirties. This one, at 40, is still holding up quite well, all things considered. Lively, fragrant aroma for such an old whisky. Notes of vanilla, coconut cream pie, butterscotch, hay, wood shavings, sultana, dried citrus, and a potpourri of spice. Some “old oak” notes emerging from time to time throughout, with a gently spicy finish. An expensive whisky, but those who pony up the money will enjoy it.
Exclusive to the Travel Retail arena, this expression of Auchentoshan was aged for 14 years in a mix of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. It is not chill-filtered prior to bottling. The nose yields polished oak, malt, milk chocolate, marzipan, figs, apricots, and ginger. Rich and full on the palate, spicy, with vanilla, mango, and finally Seville oranges. Medium to long in the finish, with almonds, soft oak, and warming spices.
Wemyss Malts Summer Fruit Cup 1998 (distilled at Auchentoshan), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $107
This is the Lowlander among Wemyss Malts’ dozen single cask releases for the fall of 2014. Maturation took place in a bourbon barrel, which yielded 295 bottles. Tinned peaches in syrup, caramel, mild vanilla, and damp tweed on the nose. Medium-bodied and intensely fruity on the palate, with apricots, raspberries, and ginger. Fruit notes linger in the finish, with spicy milk chocolate. £70
This 1998 vintage triple distilled Lowland Auchentoshan has been matured in fino sherry casks, which are rarely used for Scotch whisky maturation. The nose presents violets in fresh soil, honey, spice, developing citric fruit notes, and almonds. Quite full-bodied, fruity and zesty in the mouth. Lengthy in the finish, with spice, nuts, and oak. Becoming dry and gingery at the last.
A non-chill filtered bottling matured in a mixture of bourbon and red wine casks. The nose offers a big early orange hit, vanilla, and red wine notes. Smooth on the palate; more orange, black pepper, and spicy red wine. The finish is relatively long and spicy, with bitter chocolate orange. (Travel Retail exclusive)
This is the second edition of Auchentoshan’s cask strength Valinch bottling, which carries no age statement and has been matured in first-fill bourbon casks. As with the previous Valinch expression, only 2,000 cases have been released globally. Very fragrant on the nose, with pears, applesauce, and vanilla fudge. Spice, cream, and lively Jaffa oranges on the palate. A touch of (not unpleasant) new make spirit comes through in the relatively lengthy finish.
Part of Auchentoshan’s new travel retail line-up, Springwood carries no age statement, contains younger whiskies than Heartwood, and has been matured in 100 percent ex-bourbon wood. Acetone, tinned peaches in vanilla, and whipped cream on the floral nose. The palate is clean and fruity, initially citric, with emerging apricots in honey, and fresh spices. More spice in the finish, with focuses on milk chocolate, cinnamon, and a suggestion of Madeira. €42
That Boutique-y Whisky Company (distilled at Auchentoshan) Batch 2, 46.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $101
Batch 2 runs to 295 bottles and, in common with the rest of the range, carries no age statement. Peaches in brandy, ginger, honey, and milk chocolate on the pleasingly floral nose. The palate is silky, with more floral notes, plus cedar, oak, and soft spices. Almonds and allspice in the medium length finish. £63/500 ml
Color is antique gold while the aroma is dry but creamy, with notes of vanilla, marshmallow, honey, and tropical fruit (pineapple, coconut). Palate is malty and creamy up front, with vanilla, marshmallow, and a hint of honey; briefly becoming fruity (again, the tropical fruits) before turning dry and oaky, with a big, long, dry finish (especially for a triple-distilled Lowlander). Lowland whiskies are known for maturing nicely at a younger age. But most people don't know that some (especially Auchentoshan) are delicious at older ages too. As mentioned in my 'From the Stills' column, older vintages of Auchentoshan are now only being offered to individual retailers, one cask at a time, and this is one of those casks. It is one of many 1966 vintage Auchentoshan whiskies I have enjoyed over the past 15 years. Auchentoshan, from a balance and complexity perspective, seems to be best in the 20-30 year old range. Still, having said this, this one holds up fairly well for its age. Available exclusively at Park Avenue Liquors.
Auchentoshan Valinch is essentially a cask strength version of the popular Classic expression. It is named after the metal tube used to extract samples of spirit from the cask. A nose of tinned peaches in syrup, Madeira, cinnamon, newly-planed wood, coconut, and vanilla notes. Sweet and spicy on the creamy palate, with vanilla, honey, and praline. Oak and spice in the peach liqueur-like finish.
Similar to the Classic in its tropical fruit and honeyed vanilla, but with more depth, emerging nuts, and dried spice. Thicker too—with a slightly oily texture. A noticeable improvement from the Classic. This 12 year old is worth the few extra bucks. It’s the most rounded and balanced of the three new whiskies.
Duncan Taylor (distilled at Auchentoshan) 13 year old 1998, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $66
Another recent addition to Aberdeenshire bottler Duncan Taylor’s Dimensions range, launched late last year. The nose is very fruity, with sliced peaches and apricots, plus a porridge-like background note. Relatively full bodied and malty, with intense fruit notes, then dark spices appear. The finish is medium in length, spicy with aniseed balls, then a lingering creaminess at the very end. £42
Morrison Bowmore distillers has recently released a virgin oak-matured expression of its Auchentoshan single malt, which has no age statement. The North American oak casks have been charred prior to receiving this Lowland whisky as their first fillings. The result is a nose of Madeira, cinnamon, vanilla, and white pepper. Very spicy on the palate, with citrus fruits and plain chocolate. Lingering in the finish, with cocoa powder, icing sugar; becoming slightly more bitter with time.
The 11 year old triple distilled Lowland single malt in this bottling has been matured entirely in French oak casks that previously contained Bordeaux wine, then bottled at cask strength. The nose offers contrasting sweet and sour fruit notes, red grapes and gooseberries, damp newspaper, warm stone, and vanilla. Herbal, with cloves and spearmint. Mouth-coating, bittersweet on the palate, with molasses and — inevitably — red wine. Dark chocolate, raisins, and aniseed in the drying finish.
American Oak is new to the Auchentoshan core range in 2014 and is the first release from this Lowland distillery to be matured solely in first-fill bourbon casks. An initial note of rosewater, then Madeira, vanilla, developing musky peaches, and icing sugar. Spicy fresh fruit on the palate, chili notes, and more Madeira and vanilla. The finish is medium in length, and spicy to the end.
A very textural whisky. Incredibly creamy, with mouth-coating vanilla, honeyed barley, hay, linseed oil, clementine, and subtle peach. The whisky continues to cling to the palate long after the finish. It’s what you would expect Auchentoshan to taste like, but bolder. A nice whisky, but lacking the polish of the standard 21 year old expression.
Signatory (distilled at Auchentoshan) 12 year old 1992 vintage (Cask #7358), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $55
Lemon-lime gum drops and fresh-cut grass notes, with an underlying creamy, marshmallow-tinged maltiness. Plenty of vanilla, along with a hint of ginger spice zing. Clean, nicely rounded, and fully mature for its age.
Whisky from two different sherry casks. The sherry, extra aging, and higher strength produce an intensely rich Auchentoshan. Fudgy caramel, toffee and cocoa notes are offset by golden raisin, apricot, and Clementine. Underlying notes of roasted nuts, old leather, and spice (vanilla, mint) peek through occasionally. An enjoyable whisky, but much of the Auchentoshan is lost somewhere in all that oak and sherry.
Light, clean, and delicate on the palate, with creamy vanilla, marshmallow, soft fruit (lemon, lime), and a touch of honey throughout. Nicely balanced and uncomplicated. A whisky to appeal to both the malt and blend drinker.
Scott's Selection (distilled at Auchentoshan) 21 year old 1983 vintage, 52.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $145
Surprisingly thick and oily in texture for a Lowlander. There’s plenty of marshmallow, vanilla cream, and ripe barley, with interspersed cut grass, lemon, and mustard seed. Drying oak spice notes on the finish. Not as polished or refined as the distillery bottling of the same age, but it still has many redeeming qualities.
Auchentoshan 17 year old Bordeaux Wine Finish, 51%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
A peculiar Auchentoshan. The Bordeaux wine dominates, with its distinctive winery aroma and flavor. Red raspberry, red currant, and a hint of strawberry comprise the core of this whisky, with underlying notes of vanilla cream, cocoa, and a hint of demerara rum. The whisky spent nine of its years in Bordeaux wine casks. I would have preferred less time in the wine casks for such a delicate whisky.
This whisky comes from two bourbon casks, producing only 112 bottles. I believe it’s the most expensive Lowland whisky on the market. Unfortunately, its flavor doesn’t stand up to its price. While I applaud Morrison Bowmore's efforts to give us the opportunity to try such a mature expression of Auchentoshan, I feel that the whisky is past its prime. I wouldn't describe it as overly woody, like I have other whiskies that are 41 years old. Rather, I would describe it as overly funky. The whisky's aroma and flavor are very peculiar, with plenty of vegetal notes (cucumbers especially) combined with stewed fruit, golden raisins, rose petals, and spice (anise, clove). If it were $100 a bottle, I would suggest that you gather a few friends to chip in and buy a bottle, just for the experience. But at $2,000, I think we should leave this one for the collectors.