Just outside of Glasgow, you’ll find the curious Auchentoshan distillery. It’s curious in that it distills the whisky three times, like Irish whisky, and as such, are the only scotch producer to wholly use a triple distillation method. Other distilleries use partial triple distillation (Mortlach and Springbank come to mind), and Springbank even makes a triple distilled brand (Hazelburn), but no other Scottish distillery produces all its whisky triple distilled.
Every distillation “softens up” the whisky, and if you were lucky enough to taste the Feis Ile 2014 festival bottling of Octomore Discovery by Bruichladdich, you will have tasted a quadruple distilled whisky, which was extremely soft on the palate, literally like a liquid velvet wood fire, due to the high peatiness. To me, however, triple distilled whisky (both Irish and the Auchentoshan products) has a certain ‘musty’ or vegetal character which is less to my taste.
The distillery is part of the Morrison-Bowmore portfolio (together with Bowmore and Glen Garioch), which is owned, in turn, by Suntory. Suntory became the owner, through the purchase of Jim Beam, of Laphroaig and Ardmore. Auchentoshan is enjoying a great expansion of the brand over the past few years, and broke the one million bottle mark in sales in 2013.
With a rather short fermentation and a very narrow and early middle cut, the spirit is true to its Lowland roots.
Auchentoshan 12 (40%)
Appearance: Amber, thin and quick legs with residue on the glass.
Nose: The musty feel of the triple distillation first meets the nose, then a vegetal note with vanilla, sherry, an whiff of eucalyptus leaves, cinnamon and clove.
Palate: Bitter citrus with a somewhat flat mouth feel. No trace of the sherry promise from the nose, though. Bitter and slightly mouth drying with some notes of spice.
Linger: Spice right down the gullet, touches of sweetness on the tongue and some dryness on the inside of the cheeks.
Despite being bitter (which is a plus for me, as my regular readers know), the palate is the Achilles heel of this dram, being one dimensional and flat despite the spirit having some promise.
I think the spirit would benefit from being unchill filtered and having slightly more sherry influence (thus being slightly sweeter) which would make it work better for me.