Dram Review: Auchentoshan – Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

I was sent this sample by the chaps at Master of Malt. It’s from their range of whiskies labelled “That Boutiquey Whisky Company”. See this post for a little bit about the range.

A little about the label of the Auchentoshan: It depicts famous “mixologist” (what we in the UK call a barman who can make good cocktails) Ryan Chetiyawardana mixing up a storm. It is evocative of Auchentoshan on account of the fact that Auchentoshan is excellent for mixing due to the triple distillation that takes place there (See my review of the Auchentoshan distillery tour here).

Here are the dramstats:

AuchentoshanTBWC

  • Price £63.95 from here
  • ABV 47.1%
  • 50cl

Nose: Initially there is some aftershave and lavender, but this quickly fades. Then Vanilla and a mature corn whisky. Some of the casks in this have been very active and there may even be a percentage of virgin oak. There is a brown sauce note with fresh baked bread. It really sweetens out given time with cinnamon spice coming through.

Palate: Very sweet, lots of red summer fruits, vanilla custard, cinnamon spice, white pepper and oak.

Finish: Pepper, spicy oak then strawberry whips, creamy vanilla milkshake and custard creams.

Verdict: This is the nicest Auchentoshan I have tasted and it’s not even close! However, I wouldn’t say it was a typical lowland. It’s almost like a well matured grain in certain aspects of its character. I’m a fan. MoM know how to blend a good whisky!

Now, here is that part where I say if I would buy a bottle for myself. It’s tricky here. On the one hand I like the whisky and it is affordable. On the other it’s over £60 for only 50cl, which would work out at £89.53 for a full size one. That is in the price range that I’m willing to pay only if I really love the whisky or if I was a fan of the distillery and wanted a bottle with the unique label. This is excellent whisky, the best toshan I’ve tasted, but I wouldn’t buy it for myself. The liquid is excellent and I’m sorry that my sample is gone, but what you love is so personal, this isn’t it for me and it is therefore out of my price range.

The 12 drams of xmas: Day 8

Continuing the series of reports on the 12 drams of xmas twitter tasting event:

Quick reminder: 11 online whisky enthusiasts poured half a bottle of whisky into 10 sample bottles and sent them to the other 10 taking part. The bottles were marked only with the number of the day we were due to start. On the given day, we all blind tasted the chosen dram and tried to guess what it was.

Though I did well on some of the drams and embarrassingly badly on some others, I’m posting my tasting notes, my unedited guesses and revealing the answers.

Dram #6 was from Tom Thomson (@ifotou on twitter) and author of Toms Whisky Reviews. Here are my notes:

Nose: Quite floral with pot pourri, vanilla and clove. Apple flavoured astro belts and a hob nob note.

Palate: Apple astro belts come through along with the biscuit notes and some sherbet.

Finish: Juicy barley, no peat, apple chips, apple sourz and a malty fade.

My guess: A really great dram and it had a lowland quality but I couldn’t place the strong apple notes. Certainly nowhere other than Auchentoshan, but, for the strength, that would make this the Auchentoshan Valinch and, having been given a sample of that at the distillery in November, it didn’t taste like that. I was also tempted by Deanston because of the apple notes, but I’d had that with the Advent Calendar. In the end I went for Glen Garioch 12 as I thought I remembered similar notes from that when I tried it in 2011.

The answer: Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 lowland whisky, 57.2% (Auchentoshan Festival Bottling)

Doh! Pretty sure this gave me 0 points even though I feel like I was kind of close. My guess is that the festival bottling was different to the edition I tried in November. It’s highly likely as these things do differ from batch to batch.

It really was a nice dram though, and at least I got the country right this time!

Whisky Advent: Day 2

The excitement continues! I tell you this feeling like a child thing isn’t getting old. Today we’ve taken a trip round the peninsula from Campbell town to the outskirts of Glasgow.

auchentoshan12

I have tried this once before, on a distillery tour on my Birthday this year. Though I didn’t review this then, a review of the distillery tour is here.

So, now that I have a proper nosing glass and as part of this whisky advent series, here are the dramstats:

Auchentoshan 12 year old

  • ABV 40%
  • Price ~£29
  • Mixture of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks

Nose: Raisin and biscuit (Garibaldis). Fig rolls, mince pies and hint of vanilla.

Palate: Fig rolls jump out, very biscuity with sherry fruit. A little thin, like sherried raisin cordial. Could do with higher ABV.

Finish: Drying and chalky, sherried fruit and a slightly acrid bitter end note.

Verdict: I’m dieting at the moment and havn’t eaten biscuits for a while. Hence I really enjoyed this. I love the biscuity notes and the fig rolls taste and, at the price, this is a decent malt with enjoyable moments that I would recommend. However, I think this is coloured and chill filtered and I wish it wasn’t. I also wish it was bottled at a higher strength. Still, I guess I understand why it is presented the way it is and you can’t have everything. Because of the good price, this is a dram I would buy.

Auchentoshan distillery visit

I am a very lucky whisky blogger. Yesterday was my birthday and my wife surprised me in the morning with news that we’d be taking the drive to Scotland to visit Auchentoshan distillery. Here is my record of our visit.

We arrived 10 minutes before the 12 O’clock tour. There were two tours advertised: The standard tour (classic I think it was called) at £6, and the “wee tasting tour” at £10. The difference was 1 dram of the 12you on the standard and 3 drams (12yo, classic and three wood) on the wee tasting. Naturally I went for the 3, but I was told that they only do that at specific times (12pm not one of them) and that you don’t get 3 full drams. I was told it was better value to go on the classic, then, if I wanted spend the extra £4 in the bar trying the other members of the range. I heard “there is a bar where you can buy whisky at the end” and we were off on the classic tour!

The tour began with some background about the whisky regions and the standard and annoying “only three ingredients” spiel. Spirit caramel (E150a) is an ingredient people!

Then the tour really improved. Our guide had a qualification in distilling and explained the process in the greatest detail I’ve yet heard. The correct enzymes were named, chemical reactions explained, it was quite illuminating. A knowledgeable guide really can make all of the difference!

We were shown how the new computer allows the mash temperature to be controlled and allows the mashman to tract the progress of the wort.

This was then contrasted with the old way of doing things.

I loved the contrast! Like old telephones and touchscreen mobiles or K-9 and R2-D2. In one sense it was a shame though that only 2 men were required to run the whole mashing/distilling process for such a high production distillery.

Moving on to the wash backs we were lucky enough to be allowed to taste the wash. (It’s great when a tour allows this, it feels like such a special extra and yet it must be so easy to facilitate, why don’t more distilleries do this?) The wash was unusual. Much more like cider than beer than other washes I’ve tasted. I asked about this and we were told that the difference was due to the type of yeast and the fact that it was added dried.

The stills don’t run most weekends and so we were allowed to peak inside them (my first time). We were then allowed to nose and taste the 81% new make (so strong because of the unique (to scotland) triple distillation done at Auchentoshan. The new make was very sweet and clean with lots of green apple (which followed from my experience of the wash) and grassy notes.

We were also able to nose the foreshots (my first time for this). The green coloured liquid in the picture of the still is the foreshots and is green because it contains a lot of copper oxide due to volatile alcohol reacting with the copper inside the stills. We nosed it (very metallic and unpleasant). We weren’t allowed to taste it (it can make you go blind!)

Next stop one of the three dunnage warehouses (they also have two rack warehouses), where there was no photography. Following a look at the slumbering whisky we headed to the warm bar for our dram(s). The 12yo was a decent dram with toffee, apples, feint sherry, vanilla and liquorice allsorts (the one with the pink balls round the outside). I’m not doing a review of the 12yo here.

Then came the highlight of the tour. Our guide said “as it’s your birthday, here is something special to try”. Handing me a plastic shot glass full of whisky. He explained it was 19yo whisky poured straight from a bourbon cask into bottles (there were still bits in it!). I asked for a glass and he gave me a glencairn nosing glass. I forgot to ask for the ABV, but here are the dramstats:

  • Price £146
  • Age 19yo
  • Cask (Ex bourbon)

Nose: Paint! Strong first impression of wall paint. 2 minutes in the glass brings coconut, banana chips, vanilla, fresh cut grass, apple (how are new make notes still here after 19 years in the barrel). Water brings fresh baked bread.

Taste: banana chips, vanilla, green apple and toffee.

Finish: Toffee apples and caramel.

Verdict: Excellent dram, with the whisky really opening up in the glass. I was very pleased to have tasted it and I’ll certainly be paying attention to single cask/cask strength Auchentoshans. However, £146 is a bit steep for me. Perhaps I’ll look for an indie bottling in the late teens.

As I couldn’t afford the 19yo, I wanted to taste the valinch, a single cask offering that has proved very popular with whisky writers. Unfortunately, they only had a distillery only cask with 200 bottles signed by the master blender, and none open for tasting at the bar. Even our experienced guide and barman had not been allowed a taste.

As it was a different cask and was priced at £50 as opposed to the £35 for the acclaimed version on the internet, I didn’t buy a bottle.

Tour and distillery verdict: An excellent tour made so by a knowledgable tour guide and better than average access to the different elements of the whisky making process. I find it a shame that a distillery dedicated to single malt production (their malt is not for blends) bottles at 40%, and doesn’t have more of a craft presentation. But their single cask stuff is well worth looking out for. Overall a total bargain for the standard tour and an unusual distillery to visit for the triple distillation.