Recently, I was going through the cabinet at Caskstrength towers, wondering whether I should categorise all the bottles into their respective regions. I'd seen my pal do this and create a rather fetching leather-bound menu, which I liked the look of. So like trying to order one's music collection into genres (which starts out like fun, only to descend into absolute misery)
I set about the task, only to quickly realise that 1 region, the Lowlands was pretty poorly represented. I have a couple of nice Rosebanks, which i've been rationing out, but are becoming severely depleted. I also picked up a bottle of Auchentoshan Three Wood, as Mrs Caskstrength tasted it at a food festival earlier this summer and proclaimed it to be 'the whisky that MIGHT start her enjoying whisky'... High praise indeed.
It was somewhat timely then, that earlier this week, we received a couple of small samples of 2 new Auchentoshan releases, namely their 1998 and 1977 vintages.
Auchentoshan - 1977 vintage- 49% - Oloroso Sherry Cask - 249 bottles
Nose: Moist Christmas cake, slightly earthy and musty, with some pine resin, aged leather, big fat juicy raisins and some freshly cut oak. Quite surprising that this has been in Oloroso for its entire term, yet doesn't show any signs of over-age or dryness/dark fruit.
Palate: Hot and quite firey, with ginger, lemon zest, a hint of chilli, then extinguished with some creamy milk chocolate, some herbaceous /almost vermouth notes. Lingering sweetness from those big juicy raisins and all spice come through on the death.
Finish: Not a hint of dryness, the palate is left feeling juicy and peppered with fruit and spice.
Overall: Altogether, a bit of a minx. The nose has lots of juice and leather, the palate is very spicy, but the whole thing is very pleasingly balanced. This works as a wintery whisky, but differently to most other older sherry casks, in that it certainly isn't dominated by overly woody flavours and still retains a zesty, spicy sense of youth.
Auchentoshan - 1998 - Fino Sherry Cask - 54.6%
Nose: Toffee, with peanut brittle, honeycomb, oak sawdust, white pepper and lemon zest are all noticeable on the first nosing. With a little water, summer fruits including gooseberries and elderberries make themselves known, coupled with a malty cereal undercarriage.
Palate: Not as open as the 1977. There is a similar spiciness, with the ginger and lemon zest, but it's not quite as appealing as before. Water really gives this a lift, with a much more fruity edge coming to the fore.
Finish: Clean, with a residual malty note developing as the palate dries.
Overall: Nothing inherently wrong here- a very well put together Auchentoshan, but perhaps not as developed and as exciting as the 1977. The Fino sherry notes really compliment this style of whisky, heightening the spice and citrus. Overall, well worth seeking out if you have a penchant for discovering a hidden depth to Lowland whiskies.
I think I already have one resolution for 2011. A bigger cabinet.