I spotted this duty-free release a few years ago with its bonus of three miniature expressions and thought – why not!?
Auchentoshan is sometimes called a ‘breakfast’ whisky as it is light and sweet. They are also known for ‘triple distilling‘ which Auchentoshan claims is responsible for their ‘gentle complex flavours.’
Now… perhaps as a tasting group we lack the ability to discern such subtle quality… however the reason we’ve barely explored expressions from this Lowland distillery is generally individual samplings have been disappointing.
This particular one, the Auchentoshan Cooper’s Reserve 14 year was matured in American bourbon casks then Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.
We first sampled it in September 2013, and given our lacklustre impression of the distillery, when the whisky was revealed, most were pleasantly surprised… Here’s what we had to say then:
Bright amber in colour, a delightful banana, caramel and pear on the nose. Dry yet still sweet on the palate, very smooth with a spicy finish that lingers with a hint of dried fruit. Add water and the peat peaks out both in the nose and palate. Pronounced quite lovely and definitely one to enjoy.
With the unveiling, more than one taster shared their mixed experience with Auchentoshan – having a few ‘duds’ and some ‘delights’ this one at least was in the positive category.
Post this, I must admit, I tried it a few times but wasn’t overly attracted to its character. It then was left neglected at the back of the whisky cabinet, occasionally trotted out for social evenings.
When I was recently re-organising the whisky cabinet, decided it was time to re-sample – keeping in mind this particular bottle is in a far from optimal condition! I also saved just enough for one last dram to compare alongside the miniatures which have yet to be opened… (further indication haven’t been inspired!)
Auchentoshan Cooper’s Reserve 14 year 46%
- Colour – Amber
- Nose – Immediate stamp of both casks – bourbon and sherry, raisins, orange with something else swirling about – pear?, toffee sweet but also sharp. As it continued to breathe – chopped almost rancid nuts, dampening the citrus, shifting into a sour almost olive-like quality
- Taste – Nutty, musty, citrus tart, with a chewy bitter oaky element
- Finish – Bitter oak, old walnuts, warm
- Water – Adding a dash brightens it up considerably – clean, crisp sweet nose with a wisp of woodiness, spice for a second that mellows into woodsy sparkly sweetness and finishes with a mildly bitter burn
Do I like it?
Hmm… the very fact there isn’t an instant ‘yum’ tells you something. What I found is I couldn’t quite get past the slightly unpleasant nuttiness in this whisky. Perhaps entirely my fault as the bottle sat open too long, but old rancid walnuts isn’t my ‘nuttiness note’ of choice!
Overall it is a clean straight forward whisky without the depth and complexity that I find interesting.
Will this make me into an Auchentoshan convert? No… however will see if there is one gem in those cute little miniatures – the 12 year, three wood and 18 year. When I get around to trying…
PS – I did try the miniatures in May 2015… see the notes here.
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