Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New releases > Auchentoshan 1975 Bourbon Cask

auchentoshan 1975 bourbon caskAuchentoshan (pronounced ock-en-tosh-an) is a Lowland whisky distillery located to the north east of Glasgow. It is unique as it is the only distillery in Scotland to continually practice triple distillation of their spirit. Other Scottish distilleries occasionally do this but the majority normally distil twice. Auchentoshan was founded in 1823 and the current owners are Morrison Bowmore, part of the Japanese company Suntory. They have carried on this tradition of triple distillation since they took control in 1994. The annual production capacity is 1.75 million litres and the name translates as 'corner of the field' from Gaelic. Also, the visitor centre at the distillery has been voted one of the best in Scotland and is one of the most visited, helped by its close proximity to Glasgow.

This whisky is a new limited edition of Auchentoshan and is the latest in a line of recent vintages to be released – this follows on from the 1977 Sherry Cask, the 1978 Bourbon Cask and the 1998 Fino Sherry Cask. These limited whiskies compliment the core range, which consists of 12, 18 and 21 year old whiskies plus the Three Wood, which has undergone maturation in three different casks (hence the name!). This 1975 whisky has been bottled at 36 years of age and at the natural cask strength of 46.9% ABV. It has been matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks and the whisky has been specially selected by the distillery manager from Auchentoshan’s prime Warehouse No.3, which sits at the foot of the Kilpatrick Hills. There are only 500 bottles – each one will cost £350 from specialist whisky retailers.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a bright yellow gold and the nose is very promising indeed and immediately tempting. There is a lovely, rich combination of aromas that rise from the glass - honey, vanilla, fresh coconut and oak dominate and are complimented by hints of orange oil, burnt sugar, sandal wood, waxy furniture polish, nutmeg and caramelised almonds. On the palate, this is surprisingly vibrant for a whisky of this age, with plenty of the oak, butterscotch and wood spice evident. It then softens and becomes quite oily in the mouth. There is a peachy apricot-like note that hits first, which gets quickly joined by plenty of vanilla and honey. This excellent mix of characteristics is further combined with notes of burnt/toasted almonds, more nutmeg (and possibly cinnamon), a dash of bitter orange and some delicate cocoa powder. The finish is much drier than the nose or palate suggest. This can be a problem within some whiskies, but not here as the dryness adds a good balance. The oak and wood spices (sandal wood, cinnamon and nutmeg) drive this dryness and are joined by complimentary amounts of the bitter orange, almond and some dried coconut.

What's the verdict?
This whisky has been marketed by Auchentoshan for collector's but if we could afford one, it would be very hard to resist opening the bottle! This is a superb single malt and is without doubt, the best Auchentoshan that we have tried to date. This is a dram to sit and savour over a long period of time. A common issue in whiskies that are 30+ years of age can be the dominance of the oak, but here the combination of sweet, oak and dry elements work in balance and it has everything going for it. If you fancy a bottle, then don't hang around! This is a stunner.

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