Founded in 1800 and located just North of Glasgow, Auchentoshan seems like a
distillery that could attract tourists, but for a long time it didn't have any facilities to
accommodate visitors. Too bad, because Auchentoshan has an interesting 'feature':
Just like most other Lowland whiskies, Auchentoshan is triple distilled - as opposed to
the 'normal' double distillation that's customary in the other regions. Fortunately, the
most accessible Lowland distillery (it's located just a short taxi trip from Glasgow, just
like Glengoyne) now also has a visitor centre. I haven't visited the distillery myself yet,
but the first reports I've heard about the visitor centre were quite positive.
Auchentoshan is one of only three remaining (active) Lowland distilleries. Together
with Bladnoch and Glenkinchie it managed to escape the fate of fellow Lowlanders
like Inverleven, Kinclaith, Linlithgow, Ladyburn, Littlemill and Rosebank.
According to the text on the label of the 10yo, 'triple-distillation gives ... a very light and delicate character with a sweetness and fruity flavour enjoyed even by those unaccustomed to fine malts'.
That's one way of putting it, I guess.'A single malt for blend drinkers' would be another...
If you're drinking single malt whisky because you like a drink with more
character and personality than the average blend you have no business with the 'standard' Auchentoshan 10yo, if you ask me. And if you don't care about individuality and style you might as well save yourself some money and stick to blends...
But hey, that's just my opinion. If this is the way you like your whiskies, feel free to enjoy them as much as you possibly can. That being said, I like the Auchentoshan 'Three Wood' quite a bit and I've heard some great things about some older expressions in their 20's and 30's.
Anyway - let's get back to the historical facts.
Auchentoshan was rebuilt after WWII and aquired by Eadie Cairns in 1969. After another refitting in 1974 the predecessors of current owners Morrison Bowmore (now controlled by Suntory from Japan) bought the distillery in the 1980's. Suntory already owned Bowmore on Islay and Glen Garioch in the Highlands, so this move made perfect sense. One thing's certain: they know how to market their whiskies at Suntory. Bowmore and Auchentoshan are both among the 'commercial' winners in their own regions - big 'brand's with big reputations.
During most of the 1990's the only expression of Auchentoshan that was widely available was the 10yo.
Around the turn of the millennium the core range of Auchentoshan was expanded with a 'Select' expression (no age statement, but given the lower price probably younger than the ten years old) and the darker 'Three Wood' that seemed to be Auchentoshan's take on the Bowmore 'Darkest' from the sister distillery on Islay.
A 21yo expression was also added to the core range.
Founded / status:
Auchentoshan (Pronounced: OchunTOshun)
Lowlands (55°51'56.25 N, 4°15'26.00 W)
Glengoyne, Littlemill, Loch Lomond
1825 - working
1 Wash, 1 Middle, 1 Spirit
1,650,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Suntory > Morrisson Bowmore (since 1984)
Dalmuir, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, G81 4SG, Scotland
Yes - recently opened
www.auchentoshan.com (and a second opinion on WF)
1) The source of the name Auchentoshan is Gaelic. It means 'corner of the field'.
Yeah, I know - it sounds considerably more impressive in Gaelic ;-)
2) Auchentoshan was probably started by Irish settlers, driven from their homes by famine.
Some claim that they brought the Irish custom of triple distillation with them.
3) For a long time Auchentoshan didn't have a visitor's centre.
That has now changed - and according to reports from fellow malt maniac Peter Silver it's great.
Given their location near Glasgow and the fact that Auchentoshan is one of only three surviving Lowland distilleries (the nearby Glengoyne distillery considers itself a Highland distillery) they should attract plenty of visitors.
Auchentoshan NAS (40%, OB, Bottled 1980's, 5cl).
Nose: A hint of oil, not much else at first. Opens up a little with time, growing grainier.
Makes some evasive moves in the direction of malt and fruits but doesn't stay there.
Taste: Smooth and sweetish at first. Very slick, easily drinkable. A little malty and grainy.
Creamy and clean. Short, hot, woody finish. Maybe a light beer-like bitterness as well?
Score: 69 points - I guess I have to compliment the people at Auchentoshan on their remarkable consistency. Today they're making pretty much the same lifeless Lowlander they made two decades ago. I used to think all Lowlanders were supposed to taste like this, but over the years I've learnt that some time in a good cask can work miracles. This is a fine, accessible alternative for most blends, though.
Auchentoshan NAS 'Select' (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2002, code F391, 5cl)
Nose: Surprisingly nutty - just on the right side of oily. Fruity and a little flowery. Tea?
Soft maltiness. Clean, but it seems to have more substance than the 10yo OB.
The second dram I poured from the 5cl bottle smelled much, much sweeter and fruitier.
Taste: Smooth and slightly oily. The center grows dry quickly. Gritty. Fairly short finish.
Very clean. I'd have to say that enjoyed the palate of the 10yo more. This lacks cohesion.
Score: 64 points - nothing too offensive, but this is just too light for my tastes. If you prefer your malts light and clean this just might be your thing. I imagine the Auchentoshan 'Select' could also be a good introduction to SMSW for those who are used to drink less 'noble' distillates like gin and wodka.
Auchentoshan NAS 'Three Wood' (43%, OB, bottled +/-1999, code L316/245H, 70cl)
(Matured in three different casks; American Bourbon, Spanish Oloroso Sherry and Pedro Ximenez).
Nose: Sweet with lots of sherry. A hint of smoke. Caramel? Wood and fruits too. Tobacco!
Whiff of peppermint. Sweet fruit cake. Organics. Salted peanuts. Spices. Playful.
The sherry takes some time to move to the foreground, but when it does it's magic.
It greatly increases the complexity and fruitiness of the nose. Good development!
Much more nose than the 10yo, even though it's triple-distilled as well.
Taste: Smooth start. Sherry. Sweet and smoky as well, but with a sourish dissonant.
Mint? Fruits. Wood. Liquorice root. Fried fish? Smoke and tannins in the dry, long finish.
Score: 82 points - the taste isn't too spectacular but the nose is simply wonderful. It's rich and expressive and shows a lot of the elements I love in older Aberlours, Macallans and Springbanks. Three times a lady...
Auchentoshan 10yo (40%, OB, bottled +/- 2000, code 100/0000275/18, 70cl)
Nose: Phew. Seems very oily. Overcooked vegetables. Cannabis? Salted peanuts?
Fish? Noticeable improvement over time; the aroma's seem better 'integrated'.
Taste: Yuech! Oil. Cod liver and eucalyptus. Very smooth. Watery. Eucalyptus?
Faint chemical sweetness. Faint liquorice? Gritty in the finish - chalky like rhubarb.
Score: 58 points - this bottling seems far worse than my first batch! Distilled cod oil.
Auchentoshan 1995/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer, France)
Nose: A little sweet, a little grainy. Faint whiffs of tea leaves. Something oily after a few minutes.
Taste: A little sweet, a little grainy. No, make that very grainy. Eucalyptus? Herbal. Hint of oil?
Score: 60 points - not really my cup of tea, I'm afraid. It's just too light and devoid of character.
Auchentoshan 21yo 1970 (43%, OB, Bottled around 1991)
Nose: Very heavily sherried - a bit like a much more refined version of the 'three wood'.
Lovely fruityness. Antiquity. Big and polished with spices, organics and just a hint of glue.
The nose is extremely entertaining and never becomes boring. Rich and beautifully composed.
Taste: Fruity, sherried and woody on the palate as well. Coconut. What a lovely mouth feel.
It grows drier and smokier towards the relatively short finish - keeping it from a score in the 90's.
Score: 89 points - making it officially the very best Auchentoshan I've tried in my life.
Great stuff. Actually, some traits reminded me of a '2000' batch of the Springer 21yo...
This is by far the very best Auchentoshan I ever tried - thanks, Serge!
These were not all the (official and independent) expressions of Auchentoshan I've tried over the years.
My Track Record used to contain a complete overview of all the single malts I've tried, but when I passed the 2000 malts mark (and the list wouldn't fit on two separate HTML pages anymore) I gave up. My Liquid Log still contains my tasting notes on most malts I've sampled and scored - but finding notes on a specific expression could be tricky. You might want to use the search box at the top of this page for that. The mAlmanac now contains personal selections of the best and the worst single malts I've tried so far - as well as the ones with the highest 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' value.
But those are all just my own, purely personal opinions. On Serge's distillery profile on Whiskyfun you can find another
perspective on the distillery. Check out the Malt Maniacs Monitor on Malt Maniacs for my scores on all expressions I've
tried so far - and those of almost all the other certified malt maniacs as well. The Malt Maniacs Matrix contains a few
thousand single malts that were sampled and scored by at least four different malt maniacs, so you can compare our individual opinions.
Is the distillery or