As I’ve not really explored much Auchentoshan, when a trio of miniatures came with a bottle of Auchentoshan’s Cooper Reserve 14 year, decided this was a duty-free deal I had waited for.
I didn’t have super high expectations as I’ve had “hit and miss” experiences with Auchentoshan. I enjoyed a couple cask strength whiskies I tried years ago at a now defunct whisky bar in Singapore – guided by their ever helpful staff – and I honestly don’t recall any details. Anything I’ve tried since hasn’t measured up – the perils of starting with the ‘good’ stuff!
That said, I’m always game to challenge my opinion and ‘free’ miniatures are the right price-point. After dragging the dregs of the Auchentoshan Cooper Reserve 14 year out of the whisky cabinet last weekend, decided this weekend was high time to give the wee ones a go!
So invited a friend to pop by and we dove into our tasting journey… Being May in Mumbai meant, as my companion nailed it with her comment “Holy *@*! It is hot. May sweet whisky stop the sweat!!” We also had on hand a mini platter of pita, gouda cheese and olives. Turns out the best part of the whiskies was actually the pairing.
Auchentoshan 12 year 40%
- Nose – Medicinal, then honey, vanilla, some subtle grass, with a little patience and persistence a bit of woodsiness, stronger vanilla when warmed
- Taste – Woodsy and generally light, rather frivolous, bland. Think cucumber juice.
- Finish – Dry, light and not particularly interesting
- Comments – “The kind of whisky people think women want to drink.” “It is like the wine cooler of whiskies.”
- Overall & pairing – The old biddie of whiskies… like the Harvard Boston Club of whiskies… Works as an accompaniment not the focal point. Pairs quite well with cheese such a gouda.
Auchentoshan Three Wood 43%
- Nose – Raisins, nuts, nutmeg and cloves, like a brandy soaked Christmas fruitcake. As it aired plums joined the mix. Treacle and honey. After sipping, the nose took on pine quality with a flash of mint.
- Taste – Woody! I daresay yes… three woods? Cinnamon and bitterness on the palate.
- Finish – Lightly spice, then a dash of bitter.
- Overall & Pairing – Finally a speck of character! However it is a bit like having Christmas in May – interesting but not the real deal. Again much better paired with light nibbles – especially cheese.
Auchentoshan 18 year
- Nose – Honey notes with heather and sage, as it breathes apples and pears join the mix, vanilla like the 12 year
- Taste – Superficially woodsy, not fruity. After a nice break and some pita with cheese, faint walnut element
- Finish – Slow to start with an odd spicy kick after a bit
- Overall – While often 18 years is often a great ‘age’ for Scottish whiskies, in this case well… ok… nothing specifically wrong but also nothing distinctly right either
We found all of them went better with a little cheese. We also let all three air and found the 12 year simply became more sweetly bland with time, 18 year didn’t alter much and the Three Wood kept doing its little Christmas in summer routine.
So what’s the verdict on the trio? If you want an easy drinking whisky where the focus is on something else, heck one of these might do. If I had to pick, I found the Three Wood the most interesting whereas my friend thought the 12 year would do when your expectation was a ‘background’ whisky.
Would either of us be tempted to dash out and buy a bottle of these? Nope.
In closing, we also polished off the last drops of the Cooper’s Reserve 14 year just to see how all four expressions compared. I don’t mean to sound uncharitable, but the Cooper’s Reserve decidedly had the most character. Which given my overall opinion of it solo, isn’t saying much.
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