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Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask Single Malt Whisky (11 Year Old)

Review: Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask Single Malt Whisky   85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 20, 2014

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 on three separate stills. Triple distillation is common amongst Irish distillers, but very uncommon for a distillery producing Single Malt Whisky. The result of this triple distillation is a more laid back easy-going style of whisky which perhaps carries more floral elements through to the new make spirit; but which also may be a little less robust in character than traditional single malts. As such, the Auchentoshan Whisky is considered by some to be a more approachable single malt whisky with a wider range of appeal than a heavier malt whisky.

The Auchentoshan 11 Year Old Bordeaux Cask Single Malt Whisky is part of the Auchentoshan Distillery’s Freedom of Expressions Limited Edition Range of Single Malts. The whisky is (of course) a triple distilled Single Malt which has been produced from aged stocks  which were barreled in French Oak (Bordeaux Casks) for 11 years and bottled at 58 % alcohol by volume.

According to Morrison Bowmore’s Global Master of Malts, Iain McCallum:

“Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Wine Cask Matured spent its entire maturation period in ‘French Oak Barriques’. It is for this reason that we bottled at cask strength to showcase the marriage that can be achieved using the best quality casks”

Auchentoshan Bordeaux1999In the Bottle: 4.5/5

The whisky arrives in a nice display box (not shown) which protects the spirit from light and makes a bit of a splash in my whisky shelf. The bottle is oval-shaped rather than round with a label that is smart and crisp. I like the solid corked enclosure, and I appreciate that the label on the bottle indicates quite clearly that the whisky was aged in French Bordeaux Casks. Knowing that there is a Bordeaux influence upon the whisky gives me, the consumer, an indication that the flavour will be perhaps a little different from the regular Auchentoshan offerings.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I pour the Auchentoshan 11 Year Old Bordeaux Cask into my glass, I see it has a medium amber colour which perhaps is a little lighter than I was expecting. The reddish hints I was anticipating from the Bordeaux influence do not appear to be manifesting themselves upon the colour of the whisky to any appreciable degree. (Perhaps the Bordeaux wine was a white rather than a red wine). The initial breezes above the glass arrive with fine oak spices mingling freely with citrus zest. There is also an underlying grassiness which  hints at long tall saw grass and clumps of heather.

As the glass breathes I begin to detect hints of the Bordeaux wine finish. Some Turkish Delight candy bar and red licorice seem to have woven themselves into the breezes with both willow bushes and fresh-cut poplar wood also finding their way into my consciousness. Hints of vanilla, and some light nutty almond aromas round out the nose which is pleasant although perhaps just a touch astringent.

(Note: This dram is bottled at 58 % alcohol by volume and a touch of astringency is to be expected. I do not consider the light sharpness on the nose to be a detriment.)

In the Mouth 51/60

The whisky is sharp and spicy in the entry with a strong push of alcohol combining with fine oak spice and citrus zest heating the palate. Flavours of Turkish Delight, red licorice, dabs of raisin and fresh green grapes hint at the Bordeaux cask finish. Other flavours include some sweet butterscotch candy and light herbal flavours of lemon grass, gooseberry, willow and heather.

As indicated earlier, the rush of alcohol is strong and my advice is to add a dash or two of water or perhaps an ice-cube to help temper the heat. For myself, water was preferred as the ice seems to thwart the butterscotch sweetness within the dram bringing more grass-like flavours into play.

In the Throat  12.5/15

This Auchentoshan whisky kicks at the tonsils and will sear the throat if one takes too big of a swallow at full strength. (Adding water helps immensely.) The finish however is sweet with candied butterscotch and a rather firm cherry licorice flavour. Hints of menthol and a bit of a woody bite linger after the whisky is swallowed.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

I like overproof and cask strength offerings. However, sometimes we can have too much of a good thing, and I sense that here with the 1999 Auchentoshan Bordeaux Cask Single Malt. The whisky seems to hint at lovely flavour nuances within which unfortunately are lost (or perhaps battered senseless) by the high-octane heat of this 58% alcohol by volume bottling. One can add water to bring some of these nuances forward; but the flavour which evolves from the glass (I believe) does not have the same richness as what would occur if the bottling strength had been lowered and the resulting whisky had time been given time to settle down and adjust in the bottle. I liked this Bordeaux Cask Single Malt, I just think I would have liked it more at a lower bottling proof.

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


Suggested Recipe:

SAM_1029 Black DonaldBlack Donald

1 3/4 oz Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask Single Malt Scotch
1/2 oz Drambuie
1/2 oz Lime Juice
cracked ice
Ginger-ale (0r sub Ginger beer)
Lime for garnish

Place the first three ingredients in a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a Collins glass filled with cracked ice
Complete with Q Ginger
Garnish with lime

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide 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 more 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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