Monday, August 1, 2011

It’s just a see saw

Auchentoshen 7 year old

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Bottling

59.9% ABV (yeah, that’s right)


A good whisky is a lot like a see saw – a perfect balance of differently weighted pieces that somehow come together to create a complex, not overpowering dram.

A lot of whiskies use the maturity process to even out their whiskies.  The Lagavulin is a heavily peated Islay which which matures (and mellows) to the ripe old age of 16 before the flagship expression is ready for the world (and then, it’s really ready).  Others use special casks or finishes to impart that perfect balance.  Balvenie and Glenmorangie have taken these practices to a different level.

The cask strength Auchentoshen takes a different approach to the balance: delivering a powerful, strong, delicious, bold whisky.

How did that happen?  On the one side of the see saw, Auchentoshen has two “little kids” sharing the same seat:

  • It’s a lowland whisky, imparting a lighter taste and color to the whisky based on traditional lowland distillery methods and ingredients (a la Glenkinchie).
  • It’s triple distilled.  Auchentoshen puts its spirit through three separate stills, like an Irish Whiskey.  This, again, provides a lightness and clean taste to the whiskey.

On the other side of the see saw, there’s one heavyweight, fat kid: the Scotch Malt Whisky Society selected a kick ass seven year old cask for this bottling.

By balancing all of the light flavors and ingredients of Auchentoshen, with something more raw and unrefined like a seven year old casks, you get a delightful combination.  The color is still light, almost pale.  The nose is slightly floral with a mild spiciness.  But then you get that first taste on your tongue and BANG! this thing explodes on the palate.  I picked up orange and honey, but black pepper as well – something strong that really lingers in your mouth.  The second and third sips deliver the same punch, but in such a way that it’s absolutely drinkable.

With some whiskies, this combination of elements would throw off the balance of the see saw.  With this Auchentoshen, it’s different, and it works. 

I am going to see if they have any more bottles left from this cask, I’ll tell you that much.

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