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Back to Auchentoshan; I have previously tasted and reviewed the Classic, Select, 12yo, and Three Wood. Now the 18yo:
First vapor: Drying grass.
Nose1: Creme caramel, soft and simple. With time, the flan gains red apple and almond skins.
Nose2: Wait at least 10 minutes, without disturbance, for these nose elements to intensify somewhat: flan becomes fresh banana slices on a wheat toast, spread with macadamia nut butter.
Palate: Citric grass and caramel, on entrance. Dries bitterly with oaky nutmeg, over a base of fresh laundy. Midpalate, the oak partially mellows to cashew, still with nutmeg tingling into the finish.
Finish: Light vanilla, dry and woody: The oak is like that wheat toast, macadamia nut, and almond skins.
The Auchentoshan 18 is lighter than I expected. Compared to the 12yo, it hints at a similar character but is toned down to the softness of the Auchentoshan Select. In fact, if comparing to the 12yo, then it is best described with subtractions: For example, the nose now happily lacks the bitter grass element, but sadly lacks the caramel and coconut. And the palate now lacks the too-intense oak entrance, but at the same time lacks the smoothening toffee. The overall impression is of light oak: not too bitter, not too sweet-- unfortunately not too anything.
I had higher hopes for the higher age, but I think overall I would prefer the 12yo. And as always, I most happily and heartily recommend the Auchentoshan Three Wood, which is more robust with toffee/vanilla/floral notes while keeping the peppering oaky accent found in these others.
The most similar light malt I have tasted was perhaps the Balvenie 12yo Double Wood; see that review if you are looking to explore these lighter shades of Scotch.
And if you want something richer, this 18yo malt strikes me as a toned-down version of another 18yo: the Bunnahabhain, which includes some salt in addition to more intensity of the toasty-oak sensations.