Among my whisky friends, who I used to have tastings with before these end times came upon us, I am known as one of two people who gush about Lowlands. And what Lowland can I afford without taking a mortgage? That’s right, Auchentoshan.
But all of you have had Auchentoshan once or twice. And you’ll have that reaction of “meh” because they are around accountant’s strength, or have no age statement, or are in the “dead malt section”, aka the Airport.
But at cask strength? I’ve had some good luck. Some great experiences. And I’ll yell it from the rooftops. Or at least write overly long reviews in which I pair them all together because as usual, I’m behind.
So here are three independently bottled, single cask, and cask strength Auchentoshans that I had. If you run into a similar whisky in the world, I’d recommend trying it. And here’s why.
Thanks to /u/devoz for sharing a sample of this.
Auchentoshan 20 Whisky Broker
Price: € 75
Cask Type: Ex-Bourbon
No. of bottles: 253
Colour: 7.5Y 8/6
Nose: Pineapple syrup, heather, plum sauce, candied grapefruit
Tropical fruit with a healthy dose of sugar and time on the hob. The typicalf floral note is there, but the fruit/candy vibes are front and center, and my inner fat child and my outer fat adult are getting down with it. Though I do wish it went in a slightly different direction.
Taste: Floral, Smarties, grassy, mineral, grapefruit juice
More on the floral, but the sugar isn’t going anywhere. It balances out what we saw, albeit with less complexity going on. One thing you’re gonna find with these nice cask strength Auchentoshan is you get that acidity and grassy notes, and this delivers.
Finish: Plum, orange, caramel, grapefruit, salt, floral, ginger
Fruity, different levels of acidity, and lots of floral/ginger and fruit. The finish hits me as a Salty dog, and the salt is really strong. Like beat you up with a slab of pink strong.
Conclusion: Salty dog dram. Initially I was a bit off on the nose, as it was complex but really sweets heavy. The taste balanced it out, and I think that’s where this hits it’s stride. And then the finish hits too many salt/mineral notes.
Like going from one end of the balance to the other, it’s having issues. I like it, it does just enough that I don’t think you’d be sad but… yeah, you gotta love these flavours or you’re gonna want to pass.
Auchentoshan 23 1995 First Edition
Price: $219.96 CAD
Aged 23 years
Bottle: 098 of 144
Bottled for: Keg & Cork Liquor Company
Cask No HL16547
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Grassy, lemon meringue, savoury bread pudding, almond, heather, mineral
Think something sweet but still kinda oily. If the last was a ton of sweets, this starts light and stays balanced on savoury, floral, and nuttiness. Love that creaminess and well developed cereal note.
Taste: Lemon candy, anise, butter, limestone, walnut, strawberry candy
What I’m getting: Acidity, spice, mineral (to the next level), nutty, and a good floral candy note. In other words, what I wanted. More of that oil, but not over the top. Just the right amount of butter.
And yes, I know based on previous reviews, you may think “the right amount of butter” is all the butter in France, but for this time let’s say it’s only a normal amount and ignore my clotted cream blood.
Finish: Lemon candy, Sponge cake, almond oil, grains, burnt, strawberry, heather
More lemon candy, more savoury notes to balance with sweet notes, some burnt notes, and a heather note that reminds you it’s a Lowland. Amazing complex finish.
Conclusion: Savoury dessert and mineral heavy. When I tell people about good Lowlands, this is what I’m thinking: Citrus, sweet, balance, and grassy/floral notes. There’s amazing layers of flavours going on here. This is a must grab. It’ll change people’s minds.
Auchentoshan 30 1984 XOP Douglas Laing
Price: £350 at Auction
Cask Type: Refill Barrel
Cask Number: DL 10702
No. of bottles: 225
Colour: 7.5Y 8/6
Nose: Marshmallow, mango, mineral, cardamon
We’re seeing a pattern here: Initial big sweet notes, then pairs back a bit. This just happens to do it after marshmallows. Like children at a campfire, which is why you serve hot dogs first.
Where was I? Oh, yes. It’s still showing the nice tropical fruit and mineral notes, just a bit shy.
Taste: Chocolate, guava, heat, vanilla, honey, lemongrass, sponge cake
Wow chocolate and tropical fruit. This is brash and kinda mean. I like it. It’s basically angry at me for making fun of its nose. And if it’s anything like that girl I teased in grade 4, I’ll end up beat up and deserving it.
Nice vanilla/honey note. Water/time really blends it all together.
Finish: Oily, jalapeno, cookies & cream, mango pudding, brine, cardamon
If the nose was shy, and never came out, this shines at the end. Complex white chocolate, cocoa, tropical fruit and cream, acidity and spice. It’s all quite impressive and lives up to the age.
Conclusion: Needs water, but really shines as a dessert dram once it’s given time or water. I’m sad the nose really didn’t grow. Don’t get me wrong: The taste and the finish are really quite tasty and complex. They are crazy. And if the nose followed suit? This would probably have been my dram of the year.
But it doesn’t really live up with the nose. And that’s too bad.
Scotch review #1340-42, Lowland review #51-53, Whisky Network review #2010-2