Review: Auchentoshan Virgin Oak

History

auchentoshan distilleryI’m back from vacation and diving right back into reviewing whisky. Hope you all had a restful Holiday season and were able to enjoy time with family and friends. Today’s dram comes from the Lowlands region of Scotland. Auchentoshan lies just within the Lowlands borders, but it’s water source is actually from the Highlands. The distillery is known for their triple distillation which is rare for a single malt producer. Most distilleries distill their whisky two to two point five times. Founded in 1823, the distillery is situated at the base of the Kilpatrick hills near Glasgow. Back in the early 1800s Glasgow was surrounded by numerous distilleries but now Auchentoshan is the last one still in operation. The current owners of Auchentoshan is Morrison Bowmore who took control in 1984. Morrison Bowmore is a subsidiary of the Japanese alcoholic beverage powerhouse Suntory. As of the 2008 the brand underwent a re-branding campaign which significantly raised the profile of the whisky.

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak is a new release which just arrived in early December of 2013. The spirit was matured exclusively in virgin North American oak casks which have never touched any other spirit. This is unusual in Scotland where the majority of whisky is matured in ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV and is non-chill filtered.

Tasting Notes

auchentoshan virgin oakNose: cinnamon, pine needles, fresh cut oak, toasted almonds, orange rinds

Mouth: soft, smooth, peppery, caramel, spiced apple cider, maple syrup, nutmeg

Finish: peppery, burnt hickory, maple syrup, medium finish

Score: 83/100

Verdict: I’ve never smelled fresh cut oak from a whisky before but that is the dominant scent that I detected in this dram. It sort of smells like a Christmas tree farm which evokes memories of the recent holidays. In addition to pine there is cinnamon, toasted almonds and orange rinds. The palate is soft and smooth which is a result of Auchentoshan’s triple distillation. Sticking with the holiday theme this whisky has a distinct spiced apple cider and caramel flavor. There’s also a significant nutmeg spice element. The finish tastes of sweet maple syrup and burnt hickory. After the initial few minutes the finish devolves into an undesirable bitter flavor then returns to a nice lingering sweetness. All in all this whisky screams Christmas to me from the get-go especially with the heavy pine influence on the nose. I give full credit of the pine flavor to the virgin oak maturation. I haven’t tasted a whisky quite like this and I think it could make a great impression on the US market.

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