In the previous blog I talked about a recent visit to the Auchentoshan Distillery and I thought it made sense to follow that up with a review of one of their whiskies. After all, it would have been rude not to buy a bottle after the tour! There were a few decent options available at the visitor centre but the one that caught my interest was the ‘Valinch’, a limited batch, cask strength bottling.
First though, a little more about Auchentoshan…. Founded in 1800, it is one of the few distilleries still in operation in the Lowlands and overlooks the river Clyde at Dalmuir, just outside Glasgow. During the Second World War, the distillery sustained some serious damage from German air raids but was rebuilt and has gone on to become a respected and successful single malt brand.
It can be a little difficult for lowland distillers to compete in today’s marketplace, given the trends for heavily peated Islay’s and sherry-bomb Speyside’s so it is perhaps no surprise that Auchentoshan have been experimenting with sherry & wine cask maturation. To be fair, it works well for them, their Three Wood being a particularly good example, but one wonders if some of that Lowland identity is lost in the process?
The ‘Valinch’ bottling is named after the large pipette used to draw whisky from within the cask. What attracted me to this particular expression first and foremost was the presence of the magic words ‘Cask Strength’ on the label. Additionally, it’s available at a fairly reasonable £50 and matured completely in North American Bourbon barrels which should, in theory, allow the distillery character to shine through in the finished whisky.
On the nose there’s Cream, Vanilla and Barley with Biscuit and Lemon. It’s sweet on the palate and dominated at first by Vanilla and Cream but comes alive with water added, releasing notes of Citrus Fruit and Custard! The cask strength bottling gives it good weight and while it may not be an explosive dram it is full flavoured and very warming.
The Scores: About the scoring system
Smell: 16/20. Subtle and restrained but by no means unpleasant.
Taste: 17/20. Particularly with water, it’s a decent dram with good heft.
Value: 8/10. £50 for a cask strength, single malt is hard to argue with.