We began our journey through The Whisky Warehouse No 8 sample pack more or less in the order suggested – Auchentoshan, Linkwood, Duilaine and then we diverged – me to the Benrinnes and my tasting companions to their Tomatin.
What all four had in common is that they are single casks, bottled at cask strength and all ex-bourbon rather than sherry casks. They also were all without peat.
Our lone entrant from the Lowlands, Auchentoshan, can sometimes be overlooked…
Auchtentoshan 18 year 48.3% (1 Dec 1998 – 2 Feb 2017) Bourbon Barrel Cask No W8 23553, 168 Bottles
We initially sampled it neat:
- Nose – Initially some hay and cereals, oats, maybe even a bit of hops, a bit oily, malty, woody… no pronounced floral elements but had some dried fruits in the background
- Palate – Quite direct with no subtlety, more of the cereals, malt, wood, a bit imbalanced to be honest…
- Finish – There… but limited to a light spice
While the nose had promise, we weren’t all that impressed. There wasn’t anything ‘off’ but it was just wasn’t exceptional.
So we decided to add a bit of water and see if there was any impact… we didn’t have high expectations given it was already 48.3%…. and wow! In short – you MUST add water!
- Nose – Now here we found more fruits! Herbal, cardamom… then shifting into a lemony citrus… over time a delightful orange marmalade
- Palate – Delicious! Opens everything up – making it spicier, fruitier, sweeter, tastier and just balanced out everything that was earlier not quite in synch. From ‘meh’ to sponge cake!
- Finish – Lovely… now the inviting aromas, equally following through on the palate can be found lingering on the finish too
We set it aside to sample our other drams and returned after an hour.
- Nose – Could it have taken on a bit of smokey paprika? There was a nice tobacco leaf aroma mixed with cured sweet meats
- Palate – A balanced spice and fruit
Overall we concluded this was a nice ‘aperitif’ style whisky – a nice ‘starter’. Reflecting back, it is entirely possible we would have caught more without water had we given it more time to open up. Either way, still think adding a few drops of water is the way to go with this one.
Here is what the Whisky Warehouse No 8 bottlers have to say:
It is not a really typical Auchentoshan single malt, it is not fruity and not slim enough. But if you accept that this Lowlander tastes more like a Highlander, the flavors fit together again and you will be rewarded with a muscular, strong, but also very clean whiskey, which a few drops of water to dilute it do very well.
- Smell: Cactus blossom and fresh Italian herbs like oregano and thyme, a bit floral like hay and slightly buttery, subtle green wood note, a bit spicy like cardamom and lemon balm.
- Taste: Initially quite spicy, mainly cardamom and pepper, roasted aromas like dark cocoa powder, again culinary herbs. With a little dilution, biscuits and ripe fruit aromas can also be seen.
- Finish: At first a pepper note dominates, which lingers on the palate for a long time and warms up spicy later, it is mainly the roasted aromas that only fade very slowly.
So… cactus blossom? I must admit I’m unfamiliar with that aroma. Same with my tasting companions – one of whom looked it up. Apparently it is a ‘thing’ – so much so that she also found cactus flower scented candles. Who knew?
We would completely agree about the dilution. And overall we could understand their tasting notes except the buttery one – we didn’t catch that – and of course our lack of familiarity with cactus blossom!
What more do we know? It is from a single cask – Bourbon Barrel – which produced 168 bottles, priced at €100 for a 700 ml.
If we hadn’t known the age, I’m not sure we would have guessed 18 years. As for value for money? I’m glad we had a chance to try it in a sample pack. While enjoyable, it didn’t have that extra appeal of the Glencadam – which initially got me ‘hooked’ on these bottlers and was truly superb. However it was an entirely respectable offering from the distillery.
What else did we try from The Whisky Warehouse No 8 in our tasting set?
- Linkwood 11 year (2007 / 2019) 58.2%
- Dailuaine 12 year (2007 / 2020) 61.5%
- Benrinnes 19 year (1997 / 2016) 52.9%
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