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My first Auchentoshan, but not my first Lowland whisky as I have previously sampled Edinburgh’s Glenkinchie 12 Year Old at the beginning of my journey (Whisky Discovery #3).
I was going to go for the Classic as listed in Ian Buxton’s book, but Mark steered me this way. I’m really pleased with his recommendation, but will be back for the Classic (and more) later !
Auchentoshan (ock-un-tosh-un) is, as I said earlier, a Lowland whisky and the distillery is located to the North West of Glasgow in Clydebank. With no age statement on this expression I wrote to Auchentoshan and asked what age whisky this was. They replied that this was a 12 year old whisky, matured for 10 years in bourbon casks then finished for one year in Oloroso Sherry and then one year in Pedro Ximenez Sherry.
Auchentoshan’s clean, complex character starts with malted optic barley. Only gently kilned, completely un-peated barley lets the Auchentoshan taste shine through. They grind the barley to suit their lauter tun. It’s vital to have evenly milled starch grits – this maximises the amount of starch that converts into sugars during mashing. The milled, malted barley and pure water is fed into their lauter tun, first of all at 63.5°C. The heat helps turn the starches into sugar. After two fillings it’s ready for fermentation – the third filling is used as the first water in the next mash.
Many distilleries prefer the consistency that comes with stainless steel washbacks, however, Auchentoshan use Oregon pine instead – so the results are always a little different each time, this also means that an especially keen eye on everything is needed. All this effort means a fresh-tasting, clear wort from the lauter tun.
Auchentoshan is the only distillery in Scotland to have a third still, truly triple distilling every single drop. Triple Distillation takes the fermented liquid from around 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) up to 81%. No other Scottish distillery insists on this for every drop – double distillation usually reaches just 70% ABV. Auchentoshan new spirit is the highest distillate of any single malt distillery in Scotland. They say that when you taste the new spirit, strong notes of fruit and citrus are revealed because they have distilled away all the impurities in the liquid. You can read much more about it on their superb website www.auchentoshan.com/triple-distillation-(our-way)/triple-distillation.aspx
So why triple distillation ? It’s more time consuming. It’s more expensive, and it’s also absolutely unique in Scotland – no other Single Malt Scotch Whisky goes beyond two distillations (unless of course you know otherwise!) The extra distillation takes the spirit to around 81% – not 70%. This dramatically affects the character of the new make spirit, helping to create a subtle whisky that matures beautifully in oak.
So what did I think ? Colour: A rich and deep amber from the Sherry, although reading the very small print on the bottom of the box I think this has been stabilised with caramel (it’s in German hidden under the bar code - but Google translate got me through it)
Body: Oily, rich, and smooth, legs slow to drain in my Glencairn
Nose: Just Delicious ! Rich and sweet, fruity, raisins, brown sugar, caramel toffee, slight butterscotch, even a slight marmalade scent
Palatte: Delicious ! Mellow and smooth almost creamy, the sherry comes across strong, but there is more underneath, the vanilla and oak coming through the sweet fruits
Finish: Delicious ! The finish is warming and very long, fresh and fruity. I always enjoy nosing my empty glass again after a minute or two, and this one is no exception, the final pleasure of whisky tasting, and was surprised getting some lavender at the very end.
Overall verdict: Loved it – A great discovery !
Mark has recommended I try the Valinch next – it’s on my wish list already !