Something that I have noticed with regard to my posts on the blog since the beginning is that there tends to be a higher concentration of Islay and Speyside whisky reviews in comparison to Highland, Island or even Lowland reviews.
In fact, I believe that I can confidently say that the Lowlands have the least representation on this blog with regard to reviews, and I will endeavour to address this issue as soon as I acquire further reviews from distilleries (both active and closed) in the region.
It is this dearth of Lowland distillery reviews that has brought me to this particular review, which focuses on the celebrated Auchentoshan 12 Years Old expression. But before we delve into the review itself, here’s a bit of history.
The distillery was officially founded in 1832 by a Mr Thorne (although there has been some debate as to whether a distillery by the name of Duntocher was the predecessor to this one) and underwent a succession of ownership changes before being purchased by Stanley P. Morrison (through his company Morrison Bowmore which also owned the Bowmore distillery on Islay).
Morrison Bowmore remained the owners of both distilleries until 1994, when the company and its assets were bought over by Japanese drinks conglomerate, Suntory. This transfer to Japanese ownership helped to bring Auchentoshan’s produce to a larger market and the brand began to gain in popularity across the world and especially in Asia.
However, it was a slow process and the brand struggled to sell more than 300,000 bottles on an annual basis even in the early years of the new millennium. With Suntory’s guidance, the brand experienced a period of aggressive growth with resulted in more than a million bottles sold in 2013, which represented a 23% increase on the previous year alone.
Suntory merged with American drinks conglomerate Beam Inc in 2014, thus bringing the Suntory-owned Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch distilleries together under the same family as the Beam-owned Ardmore and Laphroaig distilleries (as well as the McClelland’s brand of single malts).
The whisky produced at the distillery is currently the only one in Scotland which is triple distilled (another notable distillery which followed the same practice was fellow Lowlands distillery, Rosebank), which means that the distillery observes a very narrow spirit cut which starts at 82% abv and stops at 80% abv (long before other distilleries have even begun their own spirit collection process).
The distillery has the capacity to produce up to 2 million litres of pure alcohol on an annual basis and has dedicated core and travel retail ranges featuring both age statemented and NAS releases.
So, let’s get to the review!
Auchentoshan 12 Years Old (40% abv)
Colour: Golden syrup
Nose: Initial entry presents a pleasant fruitiness, with citrus fruits, green apples and apricots particularly dominant. Unobtrusive and rather enticing, there are hints of barley sugar and some fresh mint, along with a sweet-savoury note that reminds me of salted caramel.
Vanilla and honey also make an appearance, giving this an added sweetness. Very expressive nose. (21/25)
Palate: Smooth, rich and fruity on the palate, with the citrus fruits and apricots at the forefront. Vanilla, barley sugar and some sweet malt also make an appearance, with some lemon zest also emerging after some time.
Quite well rounded and slightly tannic on the palate, but otherwise quite expressive and impressive in equal measure. There is a nuttiness to this whisky and it is dangerously drinkable. (22/25)
Finish: Medium to long finish, with the citrus fruits and the barley sugar carrying all the way through. There is a slightly spicy and warming note towards the end which reminds me of freshly grated ginger. Very moreish and good stuff. (20/25)
Balance: Quite an expressive dram with the fruitiness of it being the star of the show. It’s a decent whisky to have before a meal and something that most of us would enjoy as a part of our everyday drinking experience. (22/25)
I’d recommend this to those who are looking to ease into whisky drinking as it is a very approachable and friendly malt that is sure to make a great first impression. The standard abv of 40% aids it in this respect as it showcases the fruity and sweet characteristics of the whisky which drinkers would definitely find enticing.
Until the next review, have a great week ahead.