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Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Whisky

Review: Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Whisky  86.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on May 31, 2012

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 Three Wood Single Malt Whisky is a recent addition to that core range of Auchentoshan Single Malts. It is a triple distilled whisky which has been matured in three different styles of Oak. These are in order, American Bourbon, Spanish Oloroso Sherry, and Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. This unique aging process leads to a complex whisky with flavours from each style of oak imprinted upon the whisky. I recently received a sample bottle of the Auchentoshan Three Wood from the Regional Manager of Shiralli Agencies who are 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 whisky arrives in a nice display box which protects the spirit from light and makes a bit of a splash in my liquor cabinet. The bottle is oval shaped rather than round with a label that is smart and crisp, but not what I would call inspiring. I like the solid corked enclosure, and I appreciate that the label on the bottle indicates the whisky was finished in Spanish Sherry casks. Knowing that we has a sherry influence upon the whisky gives me, the consumer an indication of the flavour profile prior to purchase.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I poured the Auchentoshan 12 Year Old into my glass, I was rather pleased by the initial aroma which has a bit of a brandied flair. The whisky is rich with the aroma of oak which has firm stains of the sherry cask  influence (dates, raisins and prunes), as well as some sweet toffee (brown sugar, vanilla and butterscotch) overtones. As the glass breathes, I sense a bit of a woodland aroma with scents of  elderberry and willow thicket rising into the breezes with perhaps a bit of heather as well. Fruity tones grow in the breezes which remind me of blackberries and saskatoons.

The overall aroma is pleasing although I am detecting a mild astringency which is keeping me from scoring this section higher.

In the Mouth  52/60

The entry into the mouth carries the same themes as were displayed in the glass. The oak is foremost but there is plenty of sweet toffee and dry fruit as well. I taste some herbaceous components which I identified on the nose as willow and heather. The sherry cask flavours give the whisky a bit of a smoky presence. I am also enjoying how the bitter oaky flavours of willow and elderberry are balanced nicely with the sweeter flavours of toffee and vanilla. I found I liked the whisky a little more with each tasting, although just as I discovered with the aroma, a mild astringency upon the palate keeps the score from growing.

In the Throat 13/15

The Auchentoshan Three Wood remains balanced through to the finish. The exit flavours are remarkably similar to those sensations I noted in the glass and in the mouth. Oak and dry fruit dominate the exit; and a nice lingering spicy sweetness is left behind.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

There is so much to like about the Auchentoshan Three Wood. It is a solid single malt which displays the themes of oak and sherry cask enhancement very well. The oak flavours in particular are very strong. However, throughout the tasting sessions I seemed to sense a light harshness to the spirit which I described in the review as a mild astringency. I found I was often adding a little ice to counter the light sharpness. (I should point out that the added ice makes the whisky lightly creamy and (for me) more enjoyable.)

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


Suggested Recipe

Here is a bit of an Old-Fashioned style of recipe I found quite delightful with the Auchentoshan Three Wood.

The Autocrat

2 oz Auchentoshan Three Wood
1 tsp Agave Syrup
dash Angostura bitters
Frozen Blackberry
Orange Peel

Add the Whisky,  the agave syrup, and the bitters with 3 large ice cubes in a Martini Shaker.
Shake gently to chill the mixture.
Place a frozen blackberry into a chilled glen cairn glass.Strain the mixed ingredients over the blackberry but do not add the ice.
Twist some orange peel over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Discard the peel.

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)

One Response to “Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Whisky”

  1. Nice review. In passing, if ever a woman asks for your opinion on a whisky to try as a newbie, Auchentoshan is usually where I start them if they’ve never had one before. Because they are so light and there is a lovely sweet Sherry influence in their three wood which is a great second recommendation! Hope that’s helpful, from a “lassie’s” perspective! 🙂

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