Review: Auchentoshan 12 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 yrs; primarily bourbon but also sherry casks
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Auchentoshan (Dalmuir, Scotland)

This is the signature release of the distillery – one of less than a handful in the lowland whisky region of scotland. The spirit is triple distilled, being one of only two distilleries to do so, with the other being Hazelburn from Springbank (most Scottish whisky is double-distilled).

Triple distillation means that the spirit is distilled three times in a pot still before being diluted to barreling strength and put into barrels. This means that, essentially, there is a narrower selection of what actually goes into the spirit and the spirit off the still is quite a bit lighter. At Auchentoshan, spirit also comes off the still at 81.5% rather than the typical values of 60% for most Scotch Whisky.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Lightly fruity and light, quite akin to brandy, I find. Nutty and fruity, with lots of apple seeds, toasted almonds, vanilla, and grape. There’s also a touch of dried fruit, but mixed with the grain it’s much like the smell of raisins in bread. The barley comes through very nicely, I must say – quite brilliant too. Raisins in bread.

Taste: Lightly sweet. The entry is light, before the richness builds and some dense, slightly earthy malt hits and takes complete command with a dose of vanilla. I really do like the dense, slightly earthy and nutty barley in the middle – it makes the whisky for me, especially as it slowly unfolds and then leaves you with some almond. It’s light, though – sometimes to the extent that the alcohol seems to come through too much.

Finish: Warming, satisfactory, with good flavour level. Malt remains in firm control, and it is slightly drying, with decent length and a touch of oak and apple seeds, vanilla, and light toffee here and there. Sometimes the dryness gives a bit of a tendency to make my mouth feel a bit empty – like the sensation after drinking carbonated water. The barley retains its earthy characteristic too, which is quite nice.

Quite a light dram – too light, in general, for what I usually like to drink – but nonetheless very enjoyable. The structure is very nice and makes the overall whisky very appealing. The barley, certainly, is nicely presented and the structure is well built around that with the grape fruitiness, nuttiness, and earthiness – for that, it is quite nice. I enjoy it significantly more if I take time to warm the spirit in my glass with my hands – it’s a general rule but sometimes I get hasty.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $65.