Review: Auchentoshan Bordeaux Distillery Cask 2006

These past few weeks I've been inspired by the presence of Linh who was visiting Scotland for 2 months to explore and engage with her love of whisky. If you're on Instagram then you may have seen her antics as the Whiskyanorach. We struck up a friendship - I'm always an advocate of treating folk exactly how you'd like to be treated - so I tried to be of assistance wherever possible.

It's moments such as these where I can see the joyous enthusiasm someone from the other side of the world has for Scotland and whisky, that motivates even a reserved, stubborn fella like myself. It also forces you to get back out there and go over old ground and challenge assumptions. Such assumptions like whisky from Auchentoshan.

One of my least favourite distilleries. Blenders over the decades have their rating system for distilleries and enthusiasts will have a hit parade along similar lines. Often you will purchase a bottle on the basis of the distillery alone; faithful that their high mandate of quality runs strong through every release. Meanwhile others will languish in the depths of whisky hell.

Needless to say I have Auchentoshan pretty low in the Whisky Rover rankings just bumping above Glenkinchie and Jura. Over the years I've learnt that if you search hard enough you'll find a decent whisky from a distillery. Almost each time it will be the result of a single cask release bottled by an independent. For Auchentoshan that moment arrived with a Cadenhead 21 year old that just hit all the right notes.

The official distillery releases still fail to engage, but one evening over a series of drams, Linh suggested I try this exclusive cask she was given at the distillery whilst visiting. Funnily enough, I recalled a previous discussion concerning Auchentoshan. During this I was advised that the only guaranteed place for a decent example of Auchentoshan was to do the bottle-your-own option when visiting the distillery. Linh had been enjoying this bottle on her travels, so valuing her opinion, I took a sample for evaluation.

Distillery: Auchentoshan
Distilled: 15th February 2006
Bottled: 8th June 2015
Strength: 57.1%
Cask type: Bordeaux
Cask number: 195
Price: distillery exclusive £75

Colour: copper, it'll never be gold

Nose: a fantastic fruit laden affair - I'm reminded of being outdoors picking strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants at a local farm. It's the sticky blackcurrants that shine through very much like a coulis. I'm taken back to those fake fruit toppings you used to squirt onto ice cream as a kid. Plump raisins, tarragon and a really fine maple syrup. Yes, perhaps too sweet for some.

Taste: a real sticky jam consistency that coats the mouth. The fruit it still present but now its strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, figs, ripe plums and undiluted ribena. A real luxurious, decadent quality with a good twist of black pepper.

I really enjoyed this Auchentoshan, but I can see it being far too sweet for some and a divisive dram at a tasting. While I loved the experience, its not a whisky I could see myself drinking several measures of in one evening and surprisingly its better without water. Another example of a wine cask that actually works; no cask acing going on here or short finishing. Mmm, Auchentoshan what's going on here?

I'm due to visit the distillery in September so if this is the cask that you can bottle its an easy decision for me. If its a different cask then expect another Auchentoshan review.

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