Auchroisk distillery is relatively young in comparison to many of its Speyside neighbours. Founded in 1972, the distillery was an attempt by Justerini & Brooks to bolster their production capacity. The company had been encouraged by the rising sales of their blended scotch brands and decided to add to their three existing premises at Glen Spey, Knockando and Strathmill.
The location was chosen thanks to the accessibility of the reliably pure water of ‘Dorie’s well‘. In order to confirm the sources suitability for the project however, a quantity of water was drawn and sent to Glen Spey, where a test batch of spirit was produced. Only when this sample run was deemed acceptable did building begin on the new distillery, with the first spirit being created in 1974.
Unusually for the time, Auchroisk was bottled as a single malt from a relatively early age. In 1978, distillery manager Jim Milne deemed the spirit strong enough to sell itself and pushed for a full release. In order to add an extra dimension to his whisky however, Milne took bourbon-matured spirit and transferred it to ex-sherry casks for a further 12 months in what was very possibly the earliest example of cask finishing in the entire industry. IDV, who owned Justerini & Brooks at the time, failed to see any marketing potential in this however and left the likes of Glenmorangie and Balvenie to steal the headlines as the pioneers of cask finishing.
In 1986, Auchroisk became the first single malt to carry the ‘Singleton’ brand, though this was later abandoned when a 10 year old was released in 2001 as part of Diageo’s Flora & Fauna series. Today the Singleton label is attached to the spirit of Glen Ord, Glendullan and Dufftown distilleries respectively, whilst Auchroisk has slipped somewhat into obscurity. Official bottlings are rare but independent versions are fortunately becoming fairly commonplace.
This latest release from the Good Spirits Co of Glasgow is a 9 year old single cask Auchroisk single malt, matured in an ex-bourbon barrel then bottled at 55.6% alcohol by volume. It retails at £49 a bottle with a quantity still available here at the time of review.
Smell: Spicy… Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Pepper, Creamy Malt, Vanilla, Oatcakes, Orange, Peach and Green Apples…
Taste: Malty with a rich Bourbon influence, Chewy Vanilla and Spicy Oak – Nutmeg, Cloves and Pepper. Neat the cask is dominant but with generous addition of water some fresh Grassy notes emerge with ripe Green Fruits.
Value for Money: Any age stated cask strength bottling which can be bought for under £50 is a bargain. It becomes even more fascinating however when the liquid comes from a lesser known and under appreciated distillery like Auchroisk.
The combination of a fairly active cask and the characterful Auchroisk spirit has worked a treat here. The dram shifts and evolves depending on time in the glass – or the amount of water added – and as a result, it never fails to hold the attention, thereby more than justifying its rather reasonable cost.
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