Monday, November 6, 2017

Whisky Review: Old Malt Cask Auchentoshan 15 Year 1997/2013

Auchentoshan tends to be a hate it or love it malt, with relatively few in the latter category. While some dislike it because they find it boring, others find it a strange and inconsistent malt. I tend to be a fan, especially when aged in pure bourbon casks, but there are still exceptions.

This whisky was distilled in December 1997, filled into an ex-bourbon cask (probably Nth-refill), and bottled in May 2013 at 50% without coloring or chill filtration in an outturn of 211 bottles.

Thanks to Florin for this sample.

Old Malt Cask Auchentoshan 15 Year 1997/2013 Cask #9807

Nose: a fair bit of residual new make character - green malt and solvent, popcorn without butter, floral perfume, pink bubblegum, horse manure with partially digested hay/grass that turns somewhat peat-y with time, brine, berry jam. After adding a few drops of water the farm-y notes resolve more clearly into peat.

Taste: fairly sweet up front with a layer of caramel throughout, dirty lemon peel, vanilla, and a thick layer of dusty floral notes begin around the middle fading slightly towards the back, earthy and sour oak going into the finish. After dilution the palate becomes flatter but loses some of the more unpleasant notes in a cheap blend-y kind of way, generic sweetness and minimal oak but less grungy.

Finish: muddy floral notes, vague sweetness, cardboard, lemon furniture polish

The first time I tasted this I couldn't really understand why it was bottled. There wasn't anything that made me think it was ready for primetime. The second tasting was more positive as the younger elements had largely blown off, leaving a more pleasant but not particularly remarkable malt. Blind I might have picked it as a youngish and reasonably competent blend with a little bit of something peated. This makes me wonder if this was a cask that didn't fit any of the profiles for Auchentoshan's lineup and was sold on. It certainly doesn't seem like any other Auchentoshan I've tried before. It's still available from some shops in the EU and while I wouldn't actively dissuade anyone from buying a bottle, it wouldn't be at the top of my list. For younger Auchentoshans the 1999 bourbon barrels seem to be a better bet.

For a different perspective, check out Michael's notes from the same bottle.

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