Auchentoshan – Single Malt Scotch – Triple wood aged

For a number of years, instead of getting chocolates and other bland sweet goodies for Valentine’s day, I’ve made the habit of getting something unique that can be enjoyed for longer than 30 seconds. While our children were small, I would go out and try to find a “unique” bottle that both of us could enjoy for more than an evening.  Now, we find those unique bottles simply because it’s a Tuesday or we get a sample and think “damn, that might be fun”–

Several years ago, whilst I was working in downtown Indianapolis, I ran to a really small hole in the wall liquor store that had a reputation of having more than your normal package selections. Not only did I get a nifty tour of the store (the bank vault was really cool), one of the guys who was restocking shelves made the personal recommendation of today’s selection. (*sadly this store has now been purchased by one of regional chains and has pretty much lost the uniqueness that made it quirky for the downtown Indy area…as is often the case with corporate stores and the whole notion of uniformity)

Look:

Dark Amber. Like a simple syrup made with brown sugar (definitely doesn’t taste like that)

Nose:

Brown Sugars – depending on where you get yours – the stuff we get from Costco has a very light molasses smell to it. Unlike the Dark Dark brown sugar from Kroger that has to have bootstrap molasses in it.

There is also a definite smell of freshly made maple syrup – if you’ve ever been to a syrup maker’s hut and smelled the steam off the concentration pot, this is kind of like that. Enough to grab your attention, but not so much as to really state _I_HAVE_MAPLE_IN_ME_ —

You’ll find light esters of stone fruits on the trailing side of the smell. (I never ever thought I’d actually write that sort of sentence when I started drinking decent liquors…but yet…) It’s not like plumb or cherry or apricot or peaches, distinctly or combined…more along the line of walking past a fruit bowl that has WAY too over ripe but hasn’t completely gone off.

As you might expect in a bottle that has “Triple Wood Aged” on it, Oak can be detected. Unlike other whiskey’s that seem to revel in putting as much _OAK_ as the taste buds can handle, this is just there to say Hi.

This might sound a tad silly as a comparison – I definitely picked up a touch of cinnamon on the nose. What makes this silly is that I’m going ot be particular on the _type_ of cinnamon you’re going to smell… You’re not going to get are the fairly bland/older/in the tin cinnamon you’re going to find at a typical grocery store. Yes, kinda cinnamon—but not the type that will really blow you away, sweet spicey.

Taste:

The Auchentoshan is a fairly silky-smooth whiskey as they go. I’ll attribute part of this to the multiple woods that this has been aged in. It’s not unrefined as a texture goes. It’s a reasonable sipping whiskey that won’t make you cringe like one of those that comes in a bottle with a handle….

There’s a black peppery taste to it, getting into the almost rye-burn levels. Again, not so much as to be a distraction, but definitely there and fairly pronounced. 

This peppery taste may be amplified by a slight acidic note. As acids tend to make us a touch more sensitive to certain flavors, the pepperiness may be more muted if that acid wasn’t there.

Complimenting that acid is a touch of a salt on the backside of the experience. Not so much as to be something from the coastal areas, but enough to be there. Definitely not a Talisker level of salt, but just enough to say something.

At the far end of the taste you might catch a touch of a banana feel/taste. This was something that was coming and going as I tasted (and I know the bananas were in the other room and still extremely green—so it wasn’t them I was catching). Again, this isn’t a big flavor just there in a way to say Hi as well.

Finish:

Auchentoshan definitely stays with you after you quaff a touch. You’ll have this in the back of your mouth/top of your throat for a bit. They’ve managed to keep the flavors /feel there for just long enough to let you enjoy it, converse, then enjoy more over a decent amount of time. A neat pour could net you a good hour’s conversation and not feel that you’re missing out on anything.

Possibly because we’ve already gone through a bottle of SmokeHead, we’re kind of sensitive to the ashy tastes. (SmokeHead is like licking a campfire…very very ashy) The final note on this scotch is just a touch of smoky ash as you swallow. Like everything else on this drink, just enough to make itself present but not necessarily obnoxious. (unless you’ve had 3 or 4 and then +you+ are the obnoxious one)

Summary:

When I first purchased this bottle, it appeared to be a limited release. But back then, I wasn’t necessarily _looking_ for that limited release or understanding what would make certain bottles “special” — That being the case, this isn’t a super special bottle. It’s a nice bottle of scotch that should be enjoyed over a number of evenings, as we’ve done. Even though this bottle of Auchentoshan is special to us, it’s more for sentimental reasons than production reasons.

I was wandering through our local grocer last week to see what, if, they had anything “new” in their reconfigured liquor section, when I spied a cousin to this bottle on the top shelf. If Kroger is going to carry this, then there is a fairly reasonable chance that this spirit is readily available most everywhere in the states.  –Kroger doesn’t seem to go out on a limb when it comes to doing anything that _makes_ me want to shop there, but that’s a different topic for a different day – suffice it to say, they’re not like the formerly quaint liquor store in downtown Indy which now seems to have yards of cheap vodka with equal yardage of gin and rum…none of it blaringly different or crying out to me to buy… Kroger has culled their offerings and I was actually quite happy to see this bottle on the top shelf. —

When I purchased this bottle, the TARDIS was much smaller in size. We’ve had the opportunity in the last several years to try a number of different spirits in that time as well. Today I’d put this squarely in the middle of our collection. Not so run-of-the-mill as to be a mixer only (yes, we have those types of scotch in the collection…and they’re perfect for cocktails). Not so special or complex to be kept for special occasions only. Auchentoshan is a perfectly decent quaff for any given night to have a good conversation around.

For those who are just curious about what the back of the bottle looks like — Here you go.

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