Monday, May 23, 2016

Whisky Review: Auchentoshan Hand Bottled 14 Year 1999/2013

Beyond it being a nice distillery with a well-done tour, one of the reasons to visit Auchentoshan is that they usually offer a number of single cask bottlings only available at the distillery shop. Conveniently these are available in either 200 mL or 700 mL bottles, which I appreciated since it was the first stop on my bike tour of Scotland and I knew I would be carrying whatever I bought for several weeks. When I was there they had a younger and an older single cask on offer. I went with the younger one, both because of the price and because I read reviews suggesting that it was the better pick.

This whisky was distilled on August 24th, 1999, filled into an ex-bourbon barrel (probably first-fill), then bottled on August 26th, 2013 at 52.8% without coloring or chill filtration.

Auchentoshan Hand Bottled 14 Year 1999/2013 Cask #2052

Nose: rich and spicy bourbon cask influence - honey, moderate oak, clove/cinnamon/nutmeg, vanilla frosting, creamy malt, savory, huge fruit/berry/peach/pineapple notes in an almost sherried mode. After adding a few drops of water the oak becomes drier, but the honey and berries are amplified, the vanilla turns into whipped cream, and everything is more integrated in general.

Taste: thick and sweet, undergirding oak, caramel, indeterminate fruitiness starting around the middle, citrus (lemon and grapefruit) and savory notes at the back. After dilution the sweetness integrates with the oak, the fruitiness spreads out, and the savoriness at the back gets bigger, and it all seems more bourbon-y.

Finish: big bittersweet oak, berries, citrus, and tropical fruit in the background, a little savory

Out of the distillery-only bottles I brought back from Scotland, this is the one I most wish I had more of. It hits almost all of the notes that I like about well-done bourbon without the overly aggressive caramel and oak, letting the fruit notes shine.

While they're not at full strength, van Wees has released a number of similar 1999 vintage Auchentoshan bourbon barrels that I'm going to have to try to see if they can capture some of what I liked about this cask.

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