Whisky Review #54: Auchroisk 1998 14 Years Old (Carn Mor “Strictly Limited” range)

Auchroisk is one of those distilleries which people don’t talk about often, primarily because there isn’t much of it to go around by way of single malts. The distillery is designed to be a workhorse to provide whisky to be used in the various blends belonging to parent company Diageo and therefore there usually isn’t much left to be bottled as it is.

The whisky from Auchroisk is used to shape the character of one of the largest blended Scotch brands around, J&B (or Justerini & Brooks as it was once known) and actually forms the heart of the blend.

Auchroisk is also used as a storage facility for the maturation of casks from the various Diageo-owned distilleries within the vicinity and the warehouses are able to store up to a staggering 250,000 casks on site.

On top of the whisky production, Auchroisk is also used as a backup plant to produce gin for brands such as Gordon’s (which in my humble opinion is a terrible gin) and it is the multi-functionality that sets it apart from some other distilleries.

Getting back to the whisky, as the vast majority of production is earmarked for blends, there remains only a minute amount of casks which are available to be bottled as a single malt, and one of these bottlings is the focus of today’s review.

This particular bottling was the result of a vatting of two hogsheads which yielded 574 bottles at a standard (for independent bottlers) abv of 46%. I chanced across this particular bottling at The Single Cask and a dram of this set me back $23 (with an additional 10% service charge).

So, let’s get on with the review!

Auchroisk 1998 14 Years Old (Carn Mor Bottling)
Auchroisk 1998 14 Years Old (Bottled by Carn Mor for their “Strictly Limited” range), paired with a sea salt caramel truffle.

Auchroisk 1998 14 Years Old (Bottled by Carn Mor for their ‘Strictly Limited’ range, 46% abv)

Colour: Deep gold

Nose: Caramel, and lots of it on initial entry. Somehow, the caramel smells more artificial than natural (but since there is no e150a in this dram, it is probably just my personal opinion). Herbal and slightly fruity, with basil and blackcurrants filtering through rather slowly.

This dram does take a while to open up on its own and some water definitely does help to reveal more of its layers. Spicy and yet sweet with a slightly bitter note on the nose. Definitely one of the more unusual nosing experiences that I have come across in a while! (16/25)

Palate: The caramel note is the dominant aspect on the palate and the artificial quality of it is rather off-putting. After some time, the blackcurrants and herbs from the nose emerge along with some cinnamon and cloves.

The addition of water is definitely recommended for this dram as it does open it up a fair bit and does concentrate the fruity notes, although not significantly. The caramel recedes into the background, allowing the wood spices and the blackcurrants to take centrestage.

Basil and an oaky bitterness make an appearance later on, somewhat skewing the palate away from the sweet/spicy aspect which had taken the place of the caramel. But it is still relatively palatable. (15/25)

Finish: Relatively short on the finish, with the caramel, basil and just a tiny hint of blackcurrant making an appearance. Slightly sharp on the finish too. (13/25)

Balance: A rather one-dimensional dram in all honesty, with the sweet and spicy notes not being significant enough and the oaky bitterness literally leaving a less than pleasant taste in the mouth. The mouthfeel was oily and slightly drying. (14/25)

Rating: 58/100

I have to be honest: I didn’t enjoy this dram very much. It is possibly the lowest score that I have ever awarded to a single malt to date and there is a definite reason for it. But I would like to stress that this is just my opinion and that I would want my readers to take it with a pinch of salt.

I would definitely recommend that people give this dram a try and formulate their own opinions of it as one person’s opinion should neither elevate nor damn a dram. For those who have tried this dram before, please do let me know of your opinions within the comments section below and I would love to hear what your thoughts are about it.

I have tried other Auchroisks and there are some lovely expressions out there, but sadly this was not one of them. Perhaps one day I will revisit this dram and see if my views of it have changed.

Until the next post, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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