The Auchentoshan distillery was until very recently the closest operating distillery to my house. Since then two have opened up in Hillington and next to the River Clyde. When I visited a couple of years back I was a little new to all this but found the range new, exciting and special. Quite a lot of research has been done since then and I have more breadth of knowledge than I did.
One of the whiskies I tried on the day and enjoyed was this 18 year old. Having got a sample via Whisky.me it has been possible to revisit it. I hope it will be interesting to see how it and I have changed in that time.
The Auchentoshan distillery has been in a town called Dalmuir just outside Clydebank since 1823 when it was built by John Bulloch. It has only carried the name Auchentoshan since 1834 however.
In the map above you can see the cooling pond outside the distillery. You would be forgiven for thinking this has always been there. Infact, this was “added” during the blitz of the Second World War. During a raid one of the warehouses was hit and crates were obviously created around the distillery as well. These were turned into a pond rather than reinstating the land and has now become a feature of the distillery.
Currently owned by Beam Suntory who also own Bowmore and Laphroaig they are currently only producing whisky for their single malt range. I am not sure how recent this is because since there is independent releases on the market someone has been selling stock at some stage. Perhaps the press release only refers to sending for blends within the parent company portfolio. This would make sense since a triple distilled whisky is not much use for blending since as a new make spirit it by definition lacks character.
The 18 year old is the next step up in the core range from the 12 year old which is more available. It is fully matured in ex-bourbon casks which are bottled at 43% ABV with a little colouring and filtering added in. While most 18 year olds are going up in price this has stayed quite reasonable at around £80.
Auchentoshan has been hipster’d up in the last couple of years. In fact the tours I did at the distillery were the last month they were done before hipster city arrived and everything became focused around cocktails and highballs. Quite a depressing turn for the distillery in my opinion. As a result this 18 year old is first one in the range where the company’s own website suggests you try neat. All the others are “recommended” to be mixed. Such a travesty to give up on your quality to such an extent that you target the blend market with your single malt.
Colour – orange glow
Nose – sweet heathery honey on some malted bread. The nose is overall fruity and floral with just a hint of prickly spice. There is a yeasty note and it is all overlapped by tea and herbs.
Palate – More fermented yeast notes of proofing dough. There is lemon rinds and buttery toast in there as well.
Finish – The finish is short as we would have expected and there is more strong brewed tea and woody herb notes. There is a nuttiness in here as well although with more malted barley.
An interesting thought developed while trying this whisky. I started to see a synergy between this malt and some of the younger Bowmore’s like Small batch. Both distilleries use the same key staff in developing bottles, sourcing ingredients for production and barrels for maturation. This clearly leads to similar flavours in the bottling which is actually a little disappointing. I enjoy trying new bottles and rarely buy the same thing twice. If I am going to be doing that I want distilleries to produce house styles which are also different and perhaps the cost savings are now getting in the way of that. For me that can only mean they have gone too far.