Auchentoshan is the only Lowland malt I have so far had the opportunity to try, but I will admit to being a bit of a fan. I don’t remember when I bought my first Bottle, but I’m sure it has since crept into my personal top 3-5 of most frequently purchased malts. I find this realization surprising (and a bit confusing) since I probably wouldn’t name it among my favourite drams.
Auchentoshan claims to be the only Scotch distillery that employs a triple distillation process. Triple distillation is common amongst Irish whiskies but it is apparently unique amongst Scotch whiskies, where double distillation is the norm. The distillery would have us believe that this extended process results in a smoother whisky with a more complex profile. Auchentoshan 12 Year Old is a single malt bottled at 40% abv and is available in my market for approximately $45 per bottle.
To the Eye
This whisky displays as a bright honeyed-copper with flashes of orange. After a spin of my Glencairn, it took some serious patience to wait for the moderate legs to release and trickle extremely slowly down the glass.
In the Nose
Apples, first and foremost. Ripe red ones! I’m not sure I’ve encountered a dram that so clearly exhibited a specific fruit on the first sniff. Further exploration reveals kiwi fruit and grapes – Oloroso sherry casks, of course! There are gentle citrus notes and vanilla, evoking a hint of a orange soda and ice cream float. More patience allows bits of leather and peppercorns to join the party and a slightly smokey, salty aroma as well. For whatever reason, I’m also thinking of sesame snaps. I can’t believe how much I have written here since I wouldn’t have labelled the nose of Auchentoshan 12 as “complex” but, obviously, I’m glad I took the time to find out what was hiding behind those apples!
On the Tongue
Not nearly as sweet as the nose suggests. Grapefruit pith and freshly shelled walnuts – you know that slightly bitter walnut skin you sometimes get a little bit of? There is a surprisingly assertive oakiness, considering that it was not more prominent on the nose. There’s also sponge toffee, as well as a little bit of black pepper in there. Again, not overly complex, but neither is this whisky a one note wonder. The finish is relatively short, as far as flavour is concerned, although a hint of pencil shavings lingers along with that walnut bitterness. I do like it… quite a bit, actually!
Auchentoshan 12 is somewhat of an enigma for me. I can’t bring myself to name it a favourite, but there is definitely a reason why I almost always have a bottle of it in my cupboard. I think it’s kind of a Darcy Tucker of whisky! (You will probably have to be a Maple Leafs hockey fan of a certain age to properly appreciate this comparison!)
To clarify, this whisky may not necessarily stand out as exceptional in any particular way, but it is so darn solid in every way that it endears itself and deserves respect and appreciation! At the very least, I think you find this dram to be smooth and easy drinking – approachable for the newbie Scotch drinker but with enough to offer that more sophisticated palates will still appreciate it.