Taste Review #38 – Auchentoshan 10
When getting ready to pick a dram, it was a blind pick into the box of miniatures to have a taste of, and it was an old Auchentoshan that came out. It was part of my auction bulk buys – a hoovering up of the cheap selections of miniatures at the end of an auction by seeing what had not been bid on.
Today’s miniature is somewhat of a relic, but I include these tastings, as I feel they are still relevant. They show the distillery character and from them and tasting what the distillery does now, we can see how the distillery is moving forward. However this whisky is no unicorn, and you can still find the 90’s style packaging bottles on occasion at auction. While not an antique itself, and certainly of little value, this is a small delve into the past of a popular and under represented distillery.
Auchentoshan is on the North West side of Glasgow. When you think of Glasgow, you think of Taggart, ship building, knife crime, Rab C Nesbitt, Irn Bru, and incoherent alcoholics. But that’s the Glasgow of imagination. It’s a vibrant city, which is well worth a visit, even if the local dialect can be hard to understand if you aren’t Scottish. And sometimes if you are…. 😉. Stereotypes can be funny, but while Glasgow may have its fair share, it’s a great place with friendly people. I’ve had a fair few nights out in the city and never had any trouble.
Scottish place names can always be tricky to pronounce, as what is written is not how it is said. Glasgow has a couple – try saying Milgavie? Auchentoshan is pronounced “Ock-en-tosh-an” and this is directly from the distillery website, followed by quite a good slogan – Hard to pronounce, easy to to drink – we’ll find out later!
According to the distillery website, the Auchentoshan distillery was originally set up in 1817 on the banks of the River Clyde, and known as the Duntocher distillery. I’m not sure if it is still on the original site as Duntocher is north of the current distillery on the other side of the A82 Glasgow – Inverness road. It was 1834 before the distillery was taken over and renamed to Auchentoshan. Perhaps artistic license has been used as ‘by the side of the road’ isn’t as marketable as one the banks of a river’ when it comes to whisky.
The distillery was in close proximity to the many ship yards on the River Clyde, and during the Second World War, these weee targeted by the Luftwaffe. The A82 road was disguised as the river with the use of lights. It must have worked to a degree and large warehouses must have made an attractive target, for the distillery was bombed and three warehouses were destroyed during the war. There is a fanciful tale that the distillery pond was created by an exploding bomb, but this is pure fiction – a quick look on an old map reveals it was there even before the First World War!
The unusual aspect of Auchentoshan is that it is currently the only Scottish distillery that fully triple distills all its production, having only three stills – Wash, Intermediate and Spirit stills. This is in common with Irish Whiskey, and as Auchentoshan was founded by people of Irish heritage, this will probably explain why this occurs. Other distilleries do triple distill, Springbank being one of them, but this is not across all of their range. The re-emerging Rosebank distillery in Falkirk will also be a distillery that will fully triple distill, and it expected to open in 2020.
The triple distillation helps further purify the spirit, and the new make strength is around 81%. I guess you wouldn’t be drinking too much of that Clearic!
Another very unusual aspect to Auchentoshan is that it is one of the only (if not the only) whisky that is only used as a single malt, although casks are sold to independent bottlers.
Auchentoshan does have a visitors centre, so pop on in if you are ever in the area. It certainly is a unique distillery. Let’s see how the spirit matches up.
10 years old
Warm, malty, sweet, floral, honey, banana, caramel.
A bit of spirit buzz on the arrival, wee bit on the harsh side, but not overly so. Similar experiences in taste as on the nose, but a wee bit fruitier, orchard fruit – pear.
Short to medium with a malty fruity sensation.
I was expecting not to be disappointed in this tasting, but I wasn’t. I had already partially set my expectations low given the age of the bottle and the 40% abv. Given the slightly lower level in the bottle, it is obvious that the seal had been a wee bit more porous than it should have been. The plus point for me was the aspect of the triple distillation which gives a smoother, more delicate spirit, and on this count it was definitely present. For a spirit that had been in the bottle for probably for about 20-30 years, and had probably oxidised a bit, I must say it was a very pleasant experience.
I don’t think there was much complexity there. All the flavours and aromas were all there on show. It didn’t change that much with water added and it was a very relaxing dram to sip.
Of course, this is a dram that has been discontinued, so you will only be able to pick this up in auctions. But why not try their current range? The current core range has recently been repackaged and consists of three bottlings – American Oak, 12 year old and Three Wood, along with 18 and 21 y.o in their aged range.
It’s been some time since I’ve had some Auchentoshan but on this experience I won’t be leaving it so long until next time. As mentioned previously, my sample was as the result of my bargain hunting at auction, so I can’t give a price for it. But the American Oak whisky can be had as low as £20 on offer at Tesco, but expect to pay around £30 elsewhere. The 12 year old whisky can be had for about £35 – £40. Very recently the packaging has been rebranded, so keep a lookout for deals that are getting rid of older stock.
I need to apologise if people have seen this article published multiple times. WordPress on my phone hiccuped and wouldn’t publish properly….
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2019 Auchentoshan bottle – Tesco.com
1990’s Auchentoshan bottle – whiskybase.com
Images used under fair use and not intended to promote any sales, but for education purposes.
all other photos authors own.