Head To Head – Auchentoshan Valinch 2011 vs Valinch 2012
I quite fell in love with Valinch when it landed here. The 2011 edition, that is. It sold out before I managed to scoop a couple for future sipping sessions, but such is. These aren’t the sort of whiskies I generally squirrel away for any other reason than value and price point. Let’s face it…there’s always something new coming, as a mate of mine says. I did pick up the 2012 when it arrived, but found it…well…less exciting than its predecessor. Still quite a good dram, but it didn’t light my fire in the same way.
A few weeks back a mate of mine came by with a heel of the 2011. Lo and behold I still had a heel of the 2012. Neither were opened in the year of release, so rest assured these bottles are not on life support. Both have been open for a fair while, however, but I’m happy to report that they are still lively and bright. Perfect opportunity for the H2H I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. So let’s do it.
Right off…the 2011 is lighter in color than the 2012. While color means less than nothing in this reviewer’s eyes, it does speak to batch variation. In and of itself, no bad thing, so long as the quality stays uniformly high. The ’12 has a richer golden hue. The latter is just a hair shy in terms of abv.
Initial nosing…hmm…fairly consistent across, but the ’11 is definitely softer. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Great wide appeal, I imagine. Fruity, sweet and infinitely approachable. May not be overly complex, but in a case like this – where everything is clean and rich – there’s no need to overcomplicate things.
Pretty sure this is exactly what I recall from a couple years back. And yes…I did go through my old tasting notes. a few new ones here, but mostly the same.
Nose: Yep. As expected. Soft vanillas and rich orange notes. Zest and all. Some tangerine or tangelo. Soft oak notes. Seems like lively bourbon barrels. Maybe even some first fill or virgin oak in there? Notes of almond and toasted marshmallow. Maybe even some very sweet, soft chocolate. Some fairly substantial spice notes that hint at just how active those American Oak barrels were.
Palate: Big bombastic arrival. Orange zest. Strong thread of dark vanilla. Yep…syrupy, with a lot of fruit. Some eucalyptus (again…those free-spirited American Oak barrels). Slight herbaceousness (am I spelling that right?). Even a touch of licorice. Lovely. Oaky linger.
Thoughts: Sticking with initial assessments. This is like a creamsicle. Originally scored an 88. No need to change it up.
Hmmm. The balance so effortlessly achieved in the 2011 is sadly MIA here. Still decent enough, but the palate can’t deliver what the nose hints at. Definitely not in the same league as the first edition.
Nose: Orange and vanilla. But sharper on the zest, and a little less on the sweet, pulp notes. Some chocolate, both white and milk. Definitely more chocolate than on the 2011 edition. Some syrupy fruits, bordering on jammy. Softer than expected, considering the wallop the palate delivers.
Palate: More aggressive here, with a fair bit more oak. Oily arrival. Drier and more harsh on those wet wooden notes. Citrus pith and oily orange skins. Dark chocolate. And again…some licorice.
Thoughts: I like the nose more than palate, but even the palate is decent. Seems younger than the previous batch though. Kinda reinforces the fears we have about both NAS and slippage.
– Images & Words: Curt