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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Heart(wood) of the Matter: Auchentoshan Travel Retail Whisky

Auchentoshan Samples at Caskstrength HQ

It’s been a while since we last reviewed an Auchentoshan. One of our top visits when in the southern-half of Scotland, the triple-distilled spirit is made just outside Glasgow and their visitors experience really is excellent as is their Three Wood, which is fast becoming a standard behind bars and a fantastic flavour in a good whisky sour.

Later today I’m off to Heathrow to sample a new range of Duty Free Only Dalmore bottlings, as it seems the whisky world has gone Travel Retail mad over the last few months and Auchentoshan have embraced this world with gusto, by introducing five (yes, 5!) new releases in to the sector.

With such packed shelves in World Duty Free, it must be difficult to make your product stand out or come alive to the international traveller and the angle which Auchentoshan is taking is to use names from either tree growth or wood maturation, to go some way to explain how the liquid is matured. As a result, there will be whiskies called ‘Heartwood’, ‘Springwood’, ‘14 YO Cooper’s Reserve’, ‘Silveroak’ and ‘Solera’ all ranging in price from £34.99 - £130.00.

I must admit that, even as an ardent whisky drinker, these names don’t fill me with any sense of excitement. If I see another bottle of whisky with the word ‘cooper’ on the label, I think I might borrow some of their vicious looking tools and use them to help 'inspire' these marketing departments to have a go at thinking outside the box a little...

..but let’s ignore that and get to the heart(wood) of the matter: the liquid, by trying a couple of samples which arrived in the post recently.

Auchentoshan – Springwood - NAS – 40% abv - £34.99 for 1 litre

Springwood: the time of most fresh growth for the tree. 100% bourbon matured.

Nose: Initial hit of grapefruit, citricidal, lemon and lime zest, green apple sours, some musty oak, coconut milk. Official tasting notes says ‘poached pears’ which I’d agree with. Develops over time to lose the zest and settle down more into malted milk.

Palate: Very fresh and light, this gives off pear juice, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, kiwi and gooseberry and some light honey. A classic lowlander. A drizzle of water adds an element of rose water to the overall palate.

Finish: Short and clean with a hint of citus zest.

Overall: Much better than I was expect on the palate. Very light, easy to drink. I’d like to see what happens to a bottle when chilled down in the freezer; could be a real summer drinker in a frozen glass with a sprig of mint and some ice. In fact, I bet it makes a great highball.




Auchentoshan – Heartwood – NAS - 43% abv - £41.99 for 1 litre

Heartwood: the rich core heart of the tree. Bourbon & Oloroso matured.

Nose: A hint of BBQ chippings, rain on dry wood, all-spice and freshly cooked hot dog. Cinnamon and apple doughnuts warmed in the oven. Quite a lot going on. It’s got a wonderfully complex nose and is meaty for a triple distilled whisky.

Palate: In the mouth, the flavours give strong oak, with the meaty natures throwing roast lamb and thyme at you followed by Satsuma and some light citrus notes. May roast duck with plums. With water, the whole thing dampens down a bit. Drink this one neat.

Finish: Blood orange with some lemon drizzle and dark chocolate.

Overall: This whisky is packed full of flavour and can be a bit of a moving target on the palate, but the nose and finish are excellent, leaving a juicy, full flavour behind.


So it seems that those of you lucky enough to travel regularly will soon be spoilt for even more choice when passing through your favourite airport. Stay tuned for some more Travel Retail Only new releases over the next few days. At this rate, with all these new releases, it makes it almost pleasurable to book a flight on Ryanair... or maybe not!