What was the occasion: Doing anything is like working out to have a nice body. You have to keep doing it or the “muscle” will atrophy. Same thing for me and whisky. Thus on days when I can, I do a review.
Oh, and I also bought this bottle, forgetting I had obtained a sample from a friend, and probably should have reviewed it first. Whatever, let’s have some fun.
What whisky did we review? Auchentoshan 13 2007 North Star, a cask strength, single-cask Oloroso sherry cask whisky bottled by North Star Spirits.
This is part of the cask series, and represents one of the few cask strength Auchentoshan whiskies I can obtain at the moment.
What’s the distillery? Auchentoshan is a Lowland distillery that has been going since 1823. That said, they were rebuilt in 1969 (nice) after the area around the distillery was bombed during the Second World War (not nice at all).
What differentiates this distillery from others is it triple distils its whisky. So instead of putting it through two copper stills, you have a third still that it goes through, meaning a higher abv product at the end. This is closer to what’s practised in Ireland.
Also you don’t have many Lowland distilleries going at the moment, as quite a few are closed, a few are in development/in their first 30 years of existence, and then you have Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie as the established distilleries. So obtaining some of these can be difficult outside of Scotland.
The Lowland region typically doesn’t use peat, what with the amount of coal mines that used to be in the region (thanks Thatcher).
What’s my bias? I love floral whiskies. I love triple distilled whiskies. You would think I’d be banging a gong for Auchentoshan every day. To some extent I am, however as I said during the law Bowmore review I did, Auchentoshan has a bit of the Bowmore problem: It shines at cask strength, and it weeps at lower abv.
Which honestly sucks to explain. I want to be a cheerleader to the Lowlands and get more people understanding the delicate whiskies that can come from there, but it’s not often you find them. Add in the fact that no distillery releases 100% fire all the time (let’s ignore Springbank for this conversation) and you end up having to do a nuanced, long winded discussion on recommending whiskies.
No one wants that, they want a pretty picture, a Tik Tok, and maybe a rant from a celebrity. So let’s see if you should buy this whisky, shall we?
Price: $175 CAD
Vintage: October 2007
Bottled: July 2021
Cask type: Oloroso Hogshead
Number of bottles: 330
Colour: 2.5Y 8/8
Nose: Orange, pixie stix (sugar candy with vague citric acid flavouring), floral / With Water plum, cardamon
Way, way, WAY better with water. Initial nose is really sweet, mostly orange, and a bit of generic floral. With water? Richer, still as tart, and a bit herbal. Also less cheap sugar products for kids.
Have candies gotten worse or better with time? Man, thinking back to a lot of candy I bought that was just “powdered sugar with colours and maybe tartness” and that explains a lot about adults now.
Taste: Black licorice, nutmeg, cinnamon, metal/brine
Wow, spice. When you first try this, it’ll surprise you, because frankly the nose without water has no spice whatsoever. Also you get this salt/metal note that pops up and gets a bit stronger with water.
It’s a lot of spice. The cask has really taken over here. Took out a lot of what makes Auchentoshan tasty, sadly. That said, it still has the metal and full mouthfeel from the triple distillation.
Finish: Tangerine, basil, toffee, cloves, mineral/chalk
Much more tart and interesting on the finish. Herbal, the spice is under control, you get some Lowland mineral, and even better orange than the simple nose.
I think I get why they picked this out now.
Conclusion: A spicey, less floral Auchentoshan. The Nose needs water, but otherwise it’s a nice whisky. I always wonder why a company has bottled the whisky I’m drinking: Yes, I know it’s for money, I’ve taken enough economics/business courses to
know how much weed I can handle understand basic capitalism. To extend that belief, a product you release makes customers judge if they’ll buy another product, so IBs have to keep up a standard they have in order to make money.
This, I believe, was bottled for the finish. The finish is quite nice and unique. Perhaps it’s for people who love Oloroso casks too, as this cask must have been so wet that it left a trail from Spain.
Should you buy this? I think you should try this, but I believe more people just need to try cask strength Auchentoshan. This doesn’t quite live up to others I’ve had, as it’s a one-trick pony (the finish) and doesn’t do what I want from a cask strength Auchentoshan. That all said, I think it’s still tasty enough, and the sherry only wipes out the taste, so I can’t rag on it too hard. I think people who like oranges more than I do will enjoy this a lot.
Scotch review #1631, Lowland review #69, Whisky Network review #2359