For those who seek to improve their understanding of the whisky making process, there is nothing more informative than a distillery visit and while many of Scotland’s distilling centres are far from accessible, there remains a few that can be reached without too much toil.
Auchentoshan stands on the outskirts of Glasgow, about a 20 minute drive from the centre of Scotland’s largest city. It is an attractive and well maintained distillery, with neatly manicured lawns, tumbling water features and whitewashed buildings with stark black lettering that can be seen from the roadside.
Inside, the visitor is greeted by an attractive shop with various expressions of the Auchentoshan malt, neatly arranged around the walls. Tours begin with a brief but informative video which tells of the site’s history before moving on to the various stages of the production process.
To the casual tourist, one distillery tour must appear much like any other. For the dedicated fanatic however, any quirk in production is a fascinating insight into the development of the spirit’s character. At Auchentoshan, it is the technique of triple distillation, more traditionally seen in Irish Whiskey, which separates it from the rest.
The tour concludes in a very stylish tasting room, resplendent with a beautifully curved bar and comfy sofa’s. Tasting line-ups are available for an additional charge and provide an insight into the full array of different styles being produced at this distillery. Traditionally, lowland single malt styles are lighter and more delicate than their highland, island and speyside cousins and can sometimes be less appealing to modern consumers who seek out bold flavour profiles. Auchentoshan combat this in their wood policy with sherry and wine casks playing an increasing role in their output.
Having tried a few drams at the distillery, I opted to take home a bottle of the Valinch. Matured in American Oak ex-Bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength of 57.2%, this is a surprisingly robust, weighty Auchentoshan.
On the nose there’s Vanilla, Cream and Barley with Lemon and Biscuit. Vanilla and Cream dominates on the palate too with some subtle Green Fruits and Custard notes. There is a degree of Wood Spice and heat from the spirit that makes this a satisfing, warming dram.
The Scores: About the scoring…
Smell: Subtle, even a little restrained at first but loosens over time.
Taste: Particularly with a touch of water, it is a pleasant dram of good warmth and weight.
Value: £50 for a cask strength, single malt is hard to argue with.
Total: 41 / 50.