Down to the Lowlands for a well-aged Auchentoshan that’s been maturing in a refill ex-bourbon barrel since September 1990.
Nose: An afternoon in a coffee shop. A cappuccino with grated chocolate, a mug of freshly made mocha, steamed milk and a pile of freshly ground coffee beans sit with oven-baked croissants and a plate of rich tea biscuits. Deeper, this whisky has earthy qualities of water-logged soils, chopped herbs, wet ferns and bracken. Reduction presents a rather different complexion with rosehips, poached pears and well-ripened Galia melon alongside golden caster sugar, rock cakes and polished brass tubing.
Taste: Surprisingly textural for a normally triple distilled spirit – chocolate sauce and old orange liqueurs are joined by well-worn leather furniture and a scattering of baking spice. Sunflower and olive oils reinforce the textural and somewhat umami element, whilst syrupy peaches and baking soda sit with tangy, metal-led minerality – iron filings and bauxite. Water is once again highly transformative – mango and melon fruit cordials together with sack cloth and bourbon biscuits.
Finish: Medium and quite mineral – coal dust and reinforced steel girders alongside fading baking spices.
An Auchentoshan that even the most hardened of Auchentoshan fans will struggle to correctly identify. There’s a lot going on here and much of it doesn’t feel akin to the usual triple distilled spirit profile – hefty textural and oily notes are far from typical for this distillery – particularly when drawn from a common or garden refill ex-bourbon barrel. Honestly, I’m rather flummoxed by this one. However, regardless of the left-field presentation it’s quite lovely all the same. A bottling which will challenge your perceptions and give you a warm hug at the same time.
Far from cheap and far from an impulse buy for most. But on quality alone - recommended.