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Auchentoshan 12 Year Old Single Malt

Review: Auchentoshan 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky  91/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on December 11, 2011

The Auchentoshan Distillery is somewhat of an anomaly amongst Scottish Distillers. It is the only Scottish Distillery that triple distills their entire core range of whisky. Triple distillation is common amongst Irish distillers, but very uncommon for a distillery producing Single Malt Whisky. The result of the triple distillation is a more laid back easy-going style of whisky which perhaps carries more floral elements, but which also may be a little less robust in character than traditional single malts. As such, the Auchentoshan Whisky may be more approachable for novice Single Malt Whisky enthusiast.

The Auchentoshan 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is part of that core range of Auchentoshan Single Malts. It is (of course) a triple distilled whisky which has been produced from aged stocks (at least 12 years) of a variety of different barrel types which may include Bourbon Casks, Oloroso Sherry Casks, Pedro Jimenez (Sherry) Casks, and Fine Wine Casks. I recently received a sample bottle of the Auchentoshan 12-year-old from the Regional Manager of Shiralli Agencies which is the local importer and distributor of Morrison Bowmore Products. (The Auchentoshan Distillery and its brands are owned by Morrison Bowmore.)

In the Bottle: 4.5/5

The presentation is pretty standard fare for Single Malt Scottish Whisky, and it has me neither overly pleased nor overly displeased. The whisky arrives in a nice display box which protects the spirit from light and makes a bit of a splash in the liquor cabinet. The bottle is a typical style whisky bottle with a label that is smart and crisp but not what I would call inspiring.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When I poured the Auchentoshan 12 Year Old into my glass, I was quite taken aback by what I encountered on the nose. There was so much going on that I found myself sitting in my tasting room, not tasting anything. Instead I was just sitting there nosing the glass and wondering where all those wonderful scents were coming from. The Sherry notes were rather obvious; but something was behind them bringing a lovely delicate fruitiness to the fore. This light scent was reminiscent of field berries and fermenting grapes, and it seemed to compliment the rather dark fruity aroma associated with the sherry scents.

It was not until I did a little research and discovered the nature of the oak casking that I began to understand what my nostrils were receiving from the glass. These delicate notes of fermenting grapes and berries are probably the result of the influence of the fine wine casks which are used to age a percentage of this whisky.

Of course I also received more typical scents and smells of caramel toffee, and a light oaky scent that seemed to meld into the other aromas beautifully. Some dark cocoa and a few tea leaves were scattered in as well. But that light fruity sensation in the breezes just seemed to continually capture my attention, and I must have nosed the glass for a full twenty minutes before I took my first sip.

In the Mouth 55/60

Sipping the Auchentoshan 12 Year old is just as nice as nosing it. The whisky enters the palate with rich dark fruity sherry flavours which are complimented by a light oak background. Accompanying the sherry notes, is a ribbon of wine-like flavour that brings a light sensation of fermenting grape and wild field berries. The result is a whisky full of fruity nuances yet one which is very easy and approachable for the palate. I have to admit that I am somewhat enthralled by what I have encountered.

Nuances of caramel and toffee complete the flavour which somehow maintains its easy-going approachability, yet displays rich complexity in the glass.

In the Throat 13/15

A touch of bitterness carries through the exit and my mouth becomes somewhat puckered; but complementary flavours of chocolate, tea leaves and some spicy black pepper also carry through to the finish. The palate is left lightly heated, and the result seems to leave the mouth watering slightly, awaiting the next sip.

The Afterburn 9/10

What an excellent whisky. All of the nuances are just about right. The rich sherry flavours, the ribbons of fermenting wine, and the underlying structure of a triple distilled whisky have me hoping that my bottle will not be emptied too soon. I am definitely a big fan of this 12 Year old Single Malt from Auchentoshan!

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

The Auchentoshan Distillery Website has a few recipes which are recommended for their 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. One in particular caught my eye, and after I tried it (and loved it), I decided it be my suggested cocktail for the Auchentoshan 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. After contacting the website, I received permission to reproduce the recipe and their photograph of the cocktail here on my website.

The Sour Scotsman
(recipe and photo courtesy Morrison Bowmore)

2 oz Auchentoshan 12 Year Old
Juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ oz of egg white

Soda water to top up

Add the first four ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake until the side of the shaker frosts
Strain into a small rocks glass.
Add a good dollop of soda water
Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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