Monday, July 25, 2011

New releases > Auchentoshan Valinch

Auchentoshan Valinch is the latest bottling from the well known distillery in the Lowland whisky region of Scotland.  It has been released due to popular demand from consumers for a higher strength edition of Auchentoshan and is essentially a cask strength (57.7% ABV) version of the Classic expression from the award winning core range.  The word 'valinch' is the name of the pipette tool used to draw whisky from a cask in a warehouse and the Valinch release is planned as an annual bottling going forwards.  This release is a limited edition of around 10,000 bottles worldwide and will retail in specialist whisky retailers at the bargain price of £40 a bottle.

The Auchentoshan (pronounced ock-en-tosh-an) distillery is located to the north west 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 just twice. Auchentoshan was founded in 1823 and the current owners are Morrison Bowmore, part of the Japanese company of 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. The distillery's visitor centre has been voted one of the best in Scotland and is one of the most visited, helped by its close proximity to Glasgow.

Our tasting notes
The colour of the Valinch is a bright golden yellow and the nose is fresh, expressive and classy with a lovely perfumed scent.  The initial notes are of pungent sweet vanilla, coconut, wood shavings (think of sawdust) and almonds, before more subtle notes begin to come through - honey, hazelnut, light cereals and hints of dried grass and peach.  On the palate, this is immediately creamy and succulent with a delicious refreshing citrus-like tang which develops almost straight away (imagine lemon zest).  Then comes some lovely warm oaky wood spices, especially cinnamon and nutmeg, which compliment the rich and gripping vanilla, honey and bittersweet nuttiness (the hazelnut especially gives a slightly unusual praline note).  The peach and light cereal notes are again in the background.  The combination of the warm spice, plenty of oak, citrus (which becomes a little more orange-like with time), creamy vanilla and nuts is very good.  The finish is long, tangy and slightly drying with plenty of freshly cut oak and wood spices on offer, along with some zesty orange.  The honey and vanilla notes give balance.  The high ABV suggests adding water and even a few drops soften things down significantly - the citrus notes are tempered and the vanilla, honey and praline elements become creamier.

What's the verdict?
This is a cracking new whisky from Auchentoshan. Like all good whiskies, the palate perfectly recreates what the nose suggests and takes you on a lovely journey through to a surprisingly long, warming finish.  The high strength may put some people off but the whisky holds up well to the addition of water, which adds pleasant softness to the complex characteristics.  It is absolutely delicious. We thank Hannah Fisher, the Auchentoshan Brand Manager, for allowing us a sneak preview sample of this and we will be buying a bottle of the Valinch shortly.

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