We’re looking at another underrated distillery today, this time from the lowlands...
Thompson Brothers Auchentoshan 1998 24yo
This release isn’t actually a single cask, it’s instead a marriage of two refill bourbon single casks.
The initial nose has a lot of oak, dry woodshavings, like an old wooden table that's just been re-varnished. We're also getting pineapple, ripe banana, slightly sour apple, passionfruit and a touch of thick vanilla custard. There's a fizziness/spritiness here, akin to a Spanish Albariño wine. We tend to find Auchentoshan to have a lighter spirit, but the barrels here seem to have added a real weightiness to the spirit.
It's also got a heavier, oilier mouthfeel than we expected, but it's very very pleasant. We're getting even more of the tropical fruits; fresh pineapple and passionfruit in abundance. It has a nice lemon zest note coming through, followed on by a little sweet and sour cocktail mix going into a reasonable length finish. The finish is a little drying, our mouths are puckering for moisture after we've swallowed. The alcohol is really well integrated into the spirit, you can feel it in the background but there's no overpowering spice or burn from it. Going back we're getting some of the sweet vanilla from the wood, some sugar coated mint leaves and some butter biscuits.
Nose (with water)
It's become somewhat sweeter, but lost some fruitiness - more vanilla, candy necklaces, sherbet and icing sugar. For us it's lost a little of its charm and complexity with the water. There's also something like a fresh sea breeze, a touch of salinity and maybe a little funk there too.
Palate (with water)
It's lost a little of the viscosity we had prior to adding water, but the sweetness has accentuated in a similar way to the reduced nose. The finish is drier than before, giving some coriander seed, tea leaves and a little ground ginger.
We were looking forward to trying this one, and we weren't disappointed. It's a heavier style of Auchentoshan than we are used to, but that's not a problem at all. It's quite reminiscent of the recent batch of Glen Gairoch's that a lot of IB's have been releasing recently, maybe with a little more citrus and funk. The finish is a little too dry for us, and water doesn't help it in our opinion, but it's very well balanced and complex.
North Star Spirits Auchentoshan (Series 16)
This bottling was released as part of the series 16. The whisky was matured exclusively in a refill oloroso Sherry hogshead for 13 years.
On the nose there’s Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewell tart with the artificial cherry on top, some salty peanut butter spread on white sandwich bread, strawberry laces and dolly mixtures. We’re also reminded of Christmas mince pies with a little crushed sea salt on top.
You can taste the Auchentoshan triple distilled flavour straight away, but this has a really nice dried fruit flavour on top. It does have a synthetic sweetness there, as well as some Chinese 5 spice. There’s some orange zest along with a bit of the bitter pith there too, drizzled over a well roasted, meaty duck breast. Its super funky but we’re really enjoying it. The finish is medium length but ends with a little bit of bitter oak without the earlier sweetness.
Nose (with water)
On the reduced nose we’re getting vanilla custard, except a lot of the sweetness has disappeared. There’s also more beefy, meatiness now with a slight vegetal note, rosemary perhaps. We're also getting sultanas and a toastiness like freshly baked cakes that have been just taken out of the oven.
Palate (with water)
Similar Auchentoshan flavours bit a bit more bitter oak now, some damp earth, treacle toffee and maybe a touch of orchard fruit - sour green apples? Finish is still a good length.
There’s heaps going on in this dram, and for only being 13 years old, it’s very impressive. Theres some salty, meatier notes in here that won’t be for everyone, but the sherry and spirit go together very well for us. It’s an easy 8/10.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.