1997 Auchentoshan 19 yr “Hepburn’s Choice” (K&L Wines Exclusive)
What the Retailer Says: Auchentoshan often gets overlooked in the new age of big sherry and big peat. The Lowland stalwart’s triple-distilled, light, and fruity flavors often have more in common with Irish whiskey than they do Scotch single malt, but that’s exactly why we love it! The longer Auchentoshan sits in wood, the more exotic those fruit flavors become, which is exactly what happened inside this hogshead from Hepburn’s Choice. There’s a kiss of sweetness right off the bat that’s lifted and bolstered up by the 53.3% ABV. The vanilla kicks in shortly after and there are cheerful notes of shortbread and oak spice on the finish. At 19 years old, this whisky is still full of malty character and by no means shows its age. Think of this whisky as a cask strength version of the Midleton Rare, but at almost half the price. With water, the fruit really opens up and flavors of caramel and king sugar begin to unfold. It’s a whisky that does justice and honor to the classic Lowland style.
What Gary Says
Nose: Clean, cereal malt, with a subtle citrus (kiwi & lemongrass) with fresh tobacco & tea leaves; just a hint of smoke.
Palate: Sharpens quickly with a pepper spice, and then sweetens to barley sugar, figs, tangerine, and a hint of nutmeg.
Finish: Moderate to long, and drying.
Comments: Classic Auchentoshan profile – at least from what I’ve read. I honestly haven’t had much from them before, but I found my tasting notes lined up pretty close with how they describe the retail Auchentoshan 18yr (which I often find the distillery notes tend to be overzealous – but hey, they’re trying to move product). While this is similar to their notes, and I imagine a fair representation of their offering – it isn’t right in my wheelhouse. When I first opened it, I was disappointed – but I’ve liked it more each time I’ve gone back to it. I’d love to try this after only the 2nd distillation, as thrice distilled it is just too clean for my liking.
Rating: Stands Out
What Richard Says
Nose: Green tea, lemon zest, and malt-o-meal. Water makes it a bit more grassy and vegetal.
Palate: This is lovely and much easier to drink than any other cask strength lowlander that I’ve had. Creamy and honey sweet with a kick of cracked black pepper at the end. A bit a water taps down the pepper and bring forward more a of an orange blossom note.
Finish: More pepper (even with water) and wood. Medium and dry.
Comments: Very nice. I really enjoy this whisky. I actually like it with very little water. The fullness dies quickly with too much additional dilution. A nice one for Auchentoshan and single malt fans alike. As referenced in the K&L’s notes, I agree that this might be something that would appeal to drinkers of Irish whiskey too.
Rating: Stands Out