For our next review we are taking a venture into the lowland whisky producing region of Scotland. Generally characterised by their lighter style the lowland region encompasses all distilleries south of Glasgow in the west and Dundee in the east. Over the years the vast majority of malt distilleries in this region have closed down, reaching a low of just 4 in 2014. Since then there have been several established, with many more planned for the coming years. Today we will be looking at what is by far the best known of these Lowland distilleries, Auchentoshan.
Auchentoshan, owned by Morrison-Bowmore (a subsidiary of Suntory Beam Inc.), is the only distillery in Scotland that can claim to triple distil all of their spirit. There are some distilleries such as Springbank and Benrinnes where partial and near triple distillations are performed but Auchentoshan is the only distillery today that triple distils all of its make. The process of triple distillation makes the spirit far lighter in character, and with a higher ABV. This lighter spirit allows the casks to have a greater overall impact on the flavour of the whisky, as there has been less imparted from the process itself. Today we will be reviewing the Auchentoshan American Oak, a Non-age-statement bottling where all of the spirit has been matured in American oak casks (former Bourbon Barrels). So before we drag on too much and get all geeky with the process, let’s have a dram!
One thing that I always associate with Auchentoshan is that it has a very nutty nose to it, and it really comes across in this version. Almonds/Hazelnuts, then after this you get all the signatures of American oak cask maturation; sweet vanilla, coconut, milk chocolate and some lemon zest. After a while the smells all merge together into a really sweet and nutty smelling marzipan.
Very light and delicate on the palate, it’s not as sweet as it is on the nose but the sweetness is still there. The citrus is much more powerful here, lots of lemon peel and lime zest. A light hint of malted barley and a sprinkling of toasted almonds.
The finish is short-medium in length and is quite sharp/spirity. There is lots of bitter lemon peel and some cereal starting to come through in the end.
To be honest I’ve never really been a big fan of the idea of triple distillation, I feel it takes a lot of the character of the whisky out before you’ve even begun. That said, we really enjoyed getting stuck into this whisky, it is very light but at the same time still has plenty of character, lots of cask influence. It’s not the most complex of whiskies by any means but is still a very good dram. Because it’s so light it is quite a summery whisky, I could quite happily sit outside on a summer evening and sip away on some of this. It’s also fairly competitive pricewise; usually coming in at around £30 or less it is pretty reasonable for the quality of the whisky. I would definitely recommend trying any of the Auchentoshan bottlings, lots of flavour, bags of cask influence and a pretty unique offering too!
Gary & Steven