Monday, March 3, 2014

Have just tried - Auchentoshan 1975 Vintage (2013 Edition)

This whisky is the latest in the award winning Vintage series from Auchentoshan.  The series showcases exceptional old casks that have been maturing at the distillery since the 1970s, which is widely regarded as a time when some of the best single malts were produced there.  The 1975 Vintage (2013 Edition) has been maturing in ex-bourbon American oak casks, which were hand selected by Auchentoshan's Master Blender Rachel Barrie, and is exclusive to the travel retail sector.

Auchentoshan (pronounced ock-en-tosh-an) is the nearest distillery to Glasgow. It is located in the Lowlands region and sits to the north west of the city near Clydebank. It was officially founded in 1823, although records shown a distillery called Duntocher operating nearby in the early 1800s. Auchentoshan translates as ‘corner of the field’ from the local form of Gaelic and is currently owned by Morrison Bowmore, which is part of the Japanese company Suntory. It has a current production of 1.75 million litres per year.

Auchentoshan is unique amongst Scottish whisky distilleries as they triple distil every drop of their spirit. Elsewhere in Scotland the common practice is to distil twice, whereas triple distillation is more commonly associated with Irish whiskies. Triple distillation produces a new make spirit that is lighter and more delicate in flavour and higher in alcohol - Auchentoshan has the highest strength of new make in Scotland at 81.5% ABV.

There will be just 500 bottles available worldwide of the 1975 Vintage and the whisky is bottled at 38 years old and at the natural cask strength of 45.6% ABV.  The cost is £500 per bottle.  For further information on the release, please visit

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a heady mix of sweet and spicy aromas.  These manifest themselves as honey, vanilla and golden syrup on the sweeter side, and cinnamon, nutmeg and sandalwood on the woody/spicy side.  Underneath is something floral (maybe honeysuckle?), delicious fruit (think of canned fruit salad and peaches), plus hints of marshmallow and ginger.  It is very tempting ...

On the palate this feels velvety and luscious, but with a bite that grips the taste buds.  This comes in the form of a bittersweet malted barley hit, combined with cinnamon-like wood spice. The palate evolves rapidly and becomes increasingly complex.  The golden syrup, honey and vanilla from the nose return and compliment those initial notes superbly.  The depth continues to increase with the introduction of the canned fruit (especially the peaches) from the nose, plus dried pineapple and mango.  The theme is definitely with tropical fruit.  Underneath are further woody spices, especially nutmeg and liquorice root, along with an distinct late note of gingerbread and a hint of dried lemon peel.

The finish is long and quite punchy - the sweet and fruity notes fade quite quickly to leave the robust bittersweet cereals and wood spices to fight for your attention.

What's the verdict?
This 1975 Vintage is a superb whisky.  It has a great depth and complexity, which you may expect from a whisky of this age that has spent so long in a cask.  What we didn't expect, and what takes it up a level in terms of aroma and flavour, is the vibrancy of it.  On occasion we have sampled old whiskies that are woody and slightly one dimensional as a result.  This cannot be described in that way.

This whisky shows how good older whiskies can be with the sympathetic use of quality casks.  If we 1) had a spare £500 and 2) were in an airport, then we would definitely be grabbing a bottle of this.  It has great finesse and is a very classy single malt.

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