Auchentoshan Virgin Oak

When Auchentoshan Distillery was first built in 1800, it would be have surrounded by rolling hills and lush green grass.  However, as the Industrial Revolution fuelled Glasgow’s growth, the distillery soon found itself surrounded by the city, and it currently occupies a less glamorous position between the Erskine Bridge and the A82.  This spot beside the motorway always used to fill this whisky blogger with excitement from a young age though, as it signalled that the long journey from Oban to Glasgow was almost at an end.  Anyway, nostalgia trip out of the way…

Auchentoshan has carved itself a small niche in the Scotch Whisky industry, as it is one of the only distilleries to triple distil its spirit.  This, along with its tall stills and unpeated barley, helps to give the whisky a delicate and sweet character.  Interestingly, although the distillery’s geographical location means it lies within the Lowland region, its water source is actually located in the Highland region.

2008 saw Japanese owners Suntory revamp the brand, with a refreshed range, altered bottles and a new visitor centre.  Many of the experimental casks which had been laid down at the start of the millennium also started to be bottled; amongst them, the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak.

The majority of Auchentoshan is matured in ex-Bourbon casks, along with some old sherry and wine casks.  However, a limited amount of the spirit has also made its ways into casks made of brand new wood.  Most whiskies would find the harshness of this wood too much to handle, but at 81% ABV, Auchentoshan can more than take it.  The new wood gives the nose a big hit of spice, including cinnamon and nutmeg, whilst also maintaining the light and sweet flavours created by the triple distillation.  These warming flavours continue onto the palate, with spiced apples, caramel and vanilla.  The finish adds in spiced oranges and brown sugar, along with underlying oaky notes.

This young whisky blogger may have turned his nose up at the thought of drinking whisky but even he’d struggle to resist the draw of the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak.