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Auchentoshan Classic Bourbon Oak Cask

Average score from 12 reviews and 36 ratings 73

Auchentoshan Classic Bourbon Oak Cask

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Auchentoshan Classic Bourbon Oak Cask

What a pleasant surprise this budget malt turned out to be. A very light Lowlander, it is in a class by itself. It does not even taste like a definitive scotch. One like this is good to keep on hand for when one's judgment and taste buds get too clouded and one does not wish to waste money by keep drinking the best ones. When one switches to this one, it is basically time to call it a night. It tastes THAT different, almost like lemon and grass mixed together, but no smoke. And being a single malt, you won't be sick the next day. I will be buying more of the aged versions from this distiller at a later date.

After buying the 12 year old and comparing side by side, I had no choice except to knock off 3 points on this one, from an 88 to and 85. The 12 year old only costs about $12 more, but is worth the extra bucks.

Have you had the Three Wood? I only rated it an 84 when I first reviewed it, but I have enjoyed it more and more with each dram. Probably one of my favorites. Definitely recommend it.


Nose: Very light even compared to other light whiskies; you need to search for the aromas. If you do, the first impression is maple and wood. Once this clears (a couple minutes), it is fresh as bleach-- but hints of a pitted fruit jam, on slice of buttered bread. At first you can't tell whether the jam is apricot or peach... later it is more clearly peach, a little sour (like a green apple). For a moment the peach seems coupled with freshly washed blueberries. With more time, vanilla joins with the unsalted butter on wheat toast. I find the nose the best part of the experience; although very light, it qualifies as fresh.

Palate: Sour-bitter-tannic notes from the oak-- a little like sour milk or green apple skin. The peaches that were in the nose are revealed to be very underripe; so they are bitter, hard and white. Horseradish may come through the nose while swallowing.

Finish: Bitter underripe white peach, still. With oak flavors and a slightly metallic (back-of-the-tongue) flavor like underripe pineapple. Grass might make a fine aroma, but it is less welcome in the mouth. If you wait too long, there is a drying effect on the teeth like after drinking cranberry juice.

Does "Classic" refer to a recipe from the 1500s? There is not a lot to really "appreciate" about this malt, except the freshness of the nose. The closest that I have tried was the unimpressive Balmenach 10 (my review of the Duncan Taylor NC2). Otherwise, my closest association is the Auchentoshan Select, which I can recommend as a more refreshing palate cleanser with less bitterness. The Select also has a deeper nose (with more toffee/vanilla) in comparison, despite being one of the lightest that I know of. I reviewed the Select as 'green apple'; by analogy, the Classic is 'underripe white peach'. Both have refreshing aromas, but the Classic is lighter and more bitter. To give a positive angle, I imagine it best used as a garden-party social drink; not paying much attention to dissecting it, conversing without worrying about spilling money, serving it chilled or maybe even gulping it in shots. Otherwise: underripe, underwhelming.


Nose: Grass, sea salt, gypsum.

Palette: Pralines, Greek yogurt, carpet glue, hay bales and slight hint of grassfire smoke. The mouthfeel is thin and invasive, gathering unpleasantly around the teeth and gums.

Finish: Flat and short: Dried grass, river water, rock salt.

All told, I like this better than a cheap bourbon or a cheap Speyside any day, even though it is quite underwhelming. Still, it does offer a nice "buzz" if that's what you are looking for without much else.

This is one of the least expensive single malts at Highland Stillhouse. Hey, the price was right, but I won't be ordering another glass any time soon.

Still, this said, if I were at a party and this was the only single malt, with other choices being the typical blended Irish whiskies, cheap bourbon, overly hopped beer, or less than impressive wine, then then I would gladly and gratefully drink the Auch Classic with a little water on ice. It might also be quite pleasant with club soda on ice.

All very true @rigmorole. This is the least interesting Toshan and hence their entry level offering. I hope you will try some other Toshan soon.


This one was something of an impulse buy, purchased during a whisky shopping spree when I had a few bucks left for one more cheap bottle. In retrospect, I wish I’d spent the same money for some Sheep Dip or Black Bottle. I’ve tasted enough Auchentoshan to know that they can produce excellent whisky (I enjoy the Valinch greatly, for instance), but I think they have a lot of chutzpah to call this one a “classic.”

Nose: The only semi-decent part of the experience. It’s young, woody, rough, and chemical-y, but there’s also some nice citrus, vanilla, and sour apple. The Classic has some promise at this point, but, oh, the horrors to come…

Palate: All downhill from here, I’m afraid. The flavors that struggle to emerge should never share the same space on my tongue. Lemons, sour milk, yeasty bread, furniture polish, hints of chocolate and mint, and what I can only describe as something harsh, metallic, and artificial. Tastes like it was aged (barely) in barrels made of fresh-cut green wood.

Finish: Ack! Ptui! The only whisky I’ve ever tried that made me yearn for a spittoon. Like rotten apple peelings mixed with cardboard, bug spray, and ipecac. And again, plenty of green wood.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why many reviewers refer to Auchentoshan Classic as a “good entry-level malt” or an “easy everyday dram.” I think this would inspire whisky newcomers to a life of teetotaling, and you’d have to bribe me with Bill Gates’ bank account to get me to drink this every day.

I usually try to be positive in my reviews, which focus mainly on whiskies I like. But this stuff is so widely available, and with such a tempting low price, that I thought a few cautionary words were in order. Out of about 70 bottles in my cabinet, this is the only one I’d regard as a truly bad whisky, and one I may never finish. Unless my only goal for the evening is to get roaring drunk (which happens about every eight years) and flavor is of low priority.

@WhiskyBee, it is a public service for a measured critic like yourself to point out a druly bad dram, and I was drawn immediately to your pointed title, given that you are generally quite measured in your approach. Interesting, isn't it that Auchentoshan Classic is supposedly the diluted form of Auchentoshan Valinch?

I've avoided buying this bottle for years because of its reputation. As Mr. Murray puts it: "Classic what exactly...?"

And yes, a good blended malt or a good blended Scotch is a great expenditure choice compared to a questionable malt.

@Victor, I knew that the Classic was supposed to be "Valinch, Jr.", if you will, so I thought I was taking a calculated risk, despite the mostly negative reviews I've read. The higher concentration in the Valinch seems to bring out the best elements and subdue the nasty ones.

I may experiment to see if the Classic is palatable in cocktails, but I'm not holding my breath. Oh well...I suppose I've wasted 30 bucks in ways more foolish, so chalk this one up to a learning experience.


Well this one was not the disaster that the Select was, however it was not much better. Trying to give this one all benefits I could I still found it lacking.


Picked up a bottle at a great price and was excited, as I usually focus on Islays, but wanted something lighter. Upon opening the bottle, I got a whiff of what I can only describe as paint thinner. The palate is thin, with some floral notes, vanilla, and sweetness. But, it leaves that paint thinner taste on the back of the palate. It is a taste that lingers and overwhelms all the other flavors. Very disappointed.


Yes, I confess. I enjoy reading whisky reviews before I open my own bottle. I normally check several sources (internet and my favorite whisky book, Charles Mclean's World Whisky), and then I try to figure out why my nose and my taste buds are far less powerful than the experts' organs.

I will use the Auchentoshan Classic (no age statement)as an example.

Nose: The triple distillation has smoothed out any peaty or malty edges. What remains is a not too strong alcoholic pungency and a fruity aroma, something between pear and dried apricot, light and sweet. Sorry, I did not find any coconut in it.

Palate: Medium-sweet and fruity, smooth, somewhat tastes of grains, nothing too spectacular. Short finish, not very memorable. For a whisky aged in bourbon casks, there are not many vanilla notes which - according to a whisky expert - "takes things into a chocolate realm" - maybe only be adding or eating chocolate...

An easy whisky for the summer. I wonder how it would be if they stopped after the second distillation. For about $30,00, it is not a bad value.


This is incredibly easy to drink, but lacking in complexity and interest. The nose has hints of grass and a bit of citrus. Upon first tasting it, I get a strong buttery flavor, almost like buttered toast. This gradually develops into a kind of caramel sweetness before slipping into a really strong grass flavor.

The finish is really unremarkable. This is what makes it so drinkable for a novice - there is no burn as it goes down. Right after swallowing it was as if I hadn't had anything to drink, the finish just disappears.

This malt is inexpensive, and easily the most drinkable Scotch I've had, so someone new to single malts might want to start here. It lacks real complexity, though, and I find it rather boring.


[Note: These are reposted from my blog (see profile), if anyone has an issue with this, please let me know!]

Auchentoshan (a toughie to pronounce: Aw-ken/tosh-an) is one of the few remaining Lowlander distilleries in Scotland. It’s also notable for its use of “triple distillation” to make its spirit. This means rather than using two stills to distill the beer-like wash twice, like most Scottish distilleries, Auchentoshan processes the new-make spirit in three stills (three times). This creates a higher-proof final distillate (around 82% ABV) which is lighter and sweeter in flavor than most Scotch. I wonder if they ever release a cask-strength bottling! Wowza! Note that many Irish distillers also triple-distill their whiskey.

The Classic bottling of Auchentoshan (a replacement for the previous ‘Select’ bottling of pre-2008) has no age statement, and is likely a vatting of various ages under the flagship 12-year expression. It is matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks, which gives it delicate vanilla notes without overpowering the nuances of the triple distillate. I picked up a bottle of The Classic recently and enjoy it immensely. I have also had a dram of the 10-year bottling, which is no longer available, and I thought it was very similar. My notes for the Classic follow:

Lightly colored. Nose is big on the heather (or clover?) and the honey… light and crisp. Not too dry at all. Smells floral and peachy, almost like St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Very perfumed and floral, even without water added to open it up. The water brings out some lemony notes which make it smell a little too much like household spray cleaner to me.

Body is creamy, but not terribly heavy. Caramel praline ice cream developing into lavender and clover honey. The heather pervades, and introduces a green grassy, throat lozenge quality. Finally, a hint of bitter lemon peel. Again, water emphasizes the lemon while also thinning the body and bringing out more of that cleaning solvent character.

Finish is short-lived, but fades with dairy cream, salt water taffy, and honeycomb. Not very complex, but super tasty.

What a satisfying dram. It is delicate and subtle, sweet and crisp. Like a sugary glass of lemonade on a hot day. A little rough and undefined around the edges, no doubt due to its youth, which is also responsible for this whisky’s delightful crispness. I suggest skipping the water. This is, by the way, sometimes referred to as “The Ladies’ Malt”, because it is a fine (light) introduction to malt whisky for the gentler sex. It, however, doesn’t make me any less of a man that I enjoy it! …right?

@ScotchNoob, I'm sure nobody here will have a problem with you reposting from or plugging your blog (we are all very open minded here on Connosr :)), I do suggest you discover the site a bit so you don't have to repeat stuff (hint: check Edition 3 of Connosr Distilled for a report - yes, my report - on Auchentoshan and it's triple distillation). Having said that, allow me to say that Auchentoshan has released quite a few cask strength whiskies over the years, most recently the 1977 30 Year Old Sherry Cask Matured and 1978 Bourbon Barrel Cask Matured... And, being a Toshan Man with connections on the inside :-), later this year a very special 1975 cask strenght Toshan will be released as well... Slàinte! (www.markdermul.be/toshanman - see?)

@ScotchNoob: No problem, I enjoyed your review, just trying to save you some time. As for the new make, I've tasted it and it was wonderful. Typically Auchentoshan (thank goodness), but rather strong at 82% ABV. I have a small bottle at home, distilled on 22nd September 2010 at 79,2%. Brilliant new make.


This was my first scotch out of the bottle. Despite that, it was a good learning experience.

Nose is a little confusing: Vanilla undertones, with the alcohol over powering more of the floral tone.

Taste: good bite up front, oakish and smooth following, but doesn't finish quite like I wanted it to.


I have a soft spot for Auchentoshan after falling in love with the 12 Year Old. I tried some of the other bottles as well, as my cabinet will show.

But when trying the Classic today, I came away with mixed feelings. It's no instant classic, although it does not suffer from being a young whisky, but it's not a tremendously great dram either. It's a nice addition to the Auchentoshan range and easy to drink, making it an ideal aperitif or whisky for a novice.

This newest release from the Lowland distillery near Glasgow, more or less the follow up to the Select (which moved to duty free), has no age statement. How a new release gets to be called 'Classic' is beyond me, but then I'm no marketing director.

The nose is very sweet, with peaches and Madeira, followed by intense vanilla and coconut.

On the palate, the dram is very smooth and fruity with a touch of mint. Vanilla ice cream.

The finish is fresh and floral.

I think Auchentoshan decided to put this on the market in hopes of attracting a new and younger audience. Hence no age statement and very friendly priced at about £20.

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