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Auchentoshan 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Review: Auchentoshan 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky  90/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 05, 2013

The Auchentoshan Distillery (pronounced “OCK-un-tosh-un”, and meaning “corner of the field”) is located on the outskirts of Glasgow, and is somewhat of an anomaly amongst Scottish Distillers. It is currently 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 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 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is part of the core range of Auchentoshan Single Malts. It is (of course) a triple distilled whisky which has been produced from stocks matured solely in American bourbon casks, and then bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. (The Auchentoshan Distillery and its brands are owned by Morrison Bowmore.)

In the Bottle: 4/5

The Auchentoshan 18 Year Old whisky arrives in a nice grey display box (not shown) which protects the spirit from light, and looks rather nice on my whisky shelf. The bottle within the box is oval-shaped with an unpretentious label that is smart and crisp although not eye-popping. Although the presentation is nice, I would prefer to see some tasting notes on a whisky as expensive as this one is. I believe the consumer would be more apt to purchase whiskies such as this if they have at least an idea of the flavour profile before plunking down their had earned dollars.

In the Glass 9/10

The whisky displays itself with a deep yellow, golden straw color which when held to the light has some obvious dark brown tinctures as well. When I tilt my glass and twirl it the whisky leaves a moderately thick sheen of liquid on the inside which holds is crest for a few moments before releasing a multitude of droopy somewhat fat legs.

When I raise the glass to my nose, I receive spicy notes of oak and fresh willow which share the breezes alongside a waving field of ripening barley. The scent is clean and fresh with dabs of sweet honey and butterscotch, and some hints of tobacco. As the glass breathes I notice a grassy hayfield nearby with green foxtail, millet, and timothy just beginning to ripen in the late summer sunshine. The wood spices have gained momentum and are accented by a touch of almond, and a light floral essence which makes me think of clumps of heather.

 In the Mouth  55/60

The whisky brings forward a nice trio of woody oak, honeyed butterscotch, and peppery spice flavour in its initial delivery. The flavour is in fact very similar to the previously reviewed Auchentoshan Classic Single Malt; however the 18 Year Old is more complex with much more oak spice and tobacco flavour coming forward. There is a floral element within as well as a very obvious flavour of ripe barley.

As I let the glass breathe some orange peel mingles in the wood spice, almond flavours bubble up from underneath, and I taste some bits of heather and gooseberry as well as a sort of hay-like grassiness which reminds me of the Timothy I mentioned in the breezes. Finally, although I do not believe the distillery uses peated barley, I encounter just a touch of brine and peat meandering in the flavour profile. The whisky is very good when sipped neat, although I prefer a cube of ice which seems to bring out that nice barley flavour even more.

In The Throat 13.5/15

The whisky is peppery with dry woody flavours mingling with citrus zest, butterscotch and honey. The ending is lightly bitter as I taste some birch/poplar sap and citrus pith just as the last drops slide down my throat. That hint of floral peat and ocean brine haunt the finish in a most delightful way.

The Afterburn 9/10

I commented in the review as to the similarity between the Auchentoshan Classic and this Auchentoshan 18 Year Old. The similarity is of course no coincidence. Each of these Malt Whisky is made the same way, triple distilled and then aged in American Oak. The only difference is in terms of maturity with the 18-Year-Old spending a much longer time aging in those oak barrels. Whereas I found the Auchentoshan Classic to be quite pleasant, the 18 Year old is much more engaging. The extra time in oak has made the dram more complex with a full flavour profile.

My higher score for the 18-Year-Old reflects the increased enjoyment the whisky brings forward.

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


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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