Lowlands stalwart Auchentoshan have been looking to reposition themselves within the single malt whisky market over the last couple of years. Adopting the tagline ‘distilled differently’ (highlighting their triple-distilled spirit – not quite unique, but certainly uncommon), the distillery has introduced a raft of new expressions including a host of NAS travel retail bottlings, and ‘The Bartenders Malt’, a single malt whisky specifically designed for mixing into cocktails. Repositioning aside, Auchentoshan has continues to maintains its comprehensive core range, which includes a range of age-statement and NAS expressions. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Three Wood.
Three Wood results from a combination of maturation styles – ex-bourbon, ex-oloroso and ex-PX. Whilst it doesn’t have an age statement, a little digging on the Internet suggests that it has spent around a decade in ex-bourbon casks with its two sherry finishes being around 12-18 months in total. It’s bottled at 43% ABV and costs around £45 here in the UK.
Nose: Quite floral, though packed full of soured sherry. Opening with fruits, this presents dried berries, figs, dates and plums – but there are also some bright notes here – citrus and roasted pineapple. Florals and grassiness follow and feel quite in step with the Lowlands origins of this whisky. Sweetness levels are high, coming across as a mix of candyfloss and jellybeans, with some heady fortified wine. The sherry is not completely lively and fresh though, with notes such as vinegar, over-reduced sugars and dusty, bitter spicing. Cinnamon and ginger both come across alongside bakery aromas and some older notes of leather and tobacco. A touch unusual but predominantly sherry-led.
Taste: A gentle (but by no means thin) arrival that delivers sweet fruits – particularly reduced berries and toffee-coated apples – along with some zingy citrus and well pronounced vanilla. Mid-palate, we’re into a whole different ballpark with bitter oak, tannins, steeped black tea, rubber tyres and a fair whack of cinnamon and pepper. Alas, none of these elements balance with the lighter fruit components – indeed, they feel exceedingly divergence. Deeper, sherry flavours have the run the roost with chocolate, cake, hazelnuts and balsamic vinegar. In the back palate there are notes of copper and varnish, but also some herbs – thyme in particular.
Finish: Medium in length, quite astringent and offering spent coffee grounds alongside slight underlying herbalness.
I wanted to like Auchentoshan Three Wood more than I actually do - my memory of my last experience of it a few years back was certainly better than it is today. There’s a wealth of interesting aromas and flavours here, but unfortunately, they don’t all mesh together into a cohesive whole. If you like overt sherry, there’s plenty of that here, but, at the same time, it has run rough shot over the core distillery spirit and in effect completed nuked it. Sadly, not for me this one.