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Several months ago, I posted a review of Auchentoshan Classic and declared it the worst whisky in my cabinet. Yet the Valinch is essentially a cask-strength version of the Classic and it’s bursting with rich, sophisticated flavors. This is an example of how ampimg up the ABV can help ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive and eliminate the negative. What was harsh and chemical-y in the Classic evolves into fruits and roses in the Valinch.
But no high ABV can disguise youth completely, and the Valinch retains some of the too-fresh-wood bitterness that rendered the Classic so unpalatable. These bitter notes are better integrated into the flavor profile, however, serving to keep a lemony tartness from overwhelming everything. Still a bit too much dusty wood and immaturity for my liking nonetheless. Notes based on a seven-month old bottle at below the halfway mark.
Nose: Full-strength and right out of the bottle, this is nasty, funky stuff. Reminds me of the summer when I worked down the hall from a boy’s locker room in a school that had been closed for three years. It’s cask strength. Don’t be afraid of a little water. A few drops, a few minutes, and the nose has turned into Mother’s Day, full of candy and flowers. Lemonhead candies and roses, to be specific. Also some bitter red apple peelings, a little pepper, and loads of cream with a slight vanilla nip.
Palate: Arrival is all lemon, both tart fruit and sweet candy. Too stinging at first, but the sweetness soon turns rich, buttery, and even a bit peppery. Think birthday cake with butterscotch frosting, a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, and all dotted with those little red hot candies. There’s just the right touch of oiliness in the texture for a smooth, silky mouthcoat; this, combined with the layered sweetness, make for a wholly unique palate experience. Light flavors in a dense composite. You’ll never want to swallow.
Finish: Not bad, but a letdown after such promise. Decent length; with some nice vanilla, citrus, and pepper. The youth of the Valinch can’t hide at this point. Wood, dust, and chemicals compete for attention with the good stuff.
Most sources estimate the Valinch’s age to be in the six-to-eight-year range, which sounds about right. Good whisky, to be sure, but I can’t help but wonder what wonders would be produced by doubling the cask time.