Category Archives: Auchentoshan

Head To Head – Auchentoshan Valinch 2011 vs Valinch 2012

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.


Auchentoshan Valinch 2011

57.5% abv

Score:  88/100


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.


Auchentoshan Valinch 2012

57.2% abv

Score:  84.5/100


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

Auchentoshan Three Wood Review

Auchentoshan Three WoodThree Wood

43% abv

Score:  83.5/100


I went into this one with a ‘holy hell, what have we here?’ kinda attitude.  The nose was rich and uber-sweet.  Almost the same kinda tooth-rotting olfactory gleeful anticipation I get each time I stick my beak deep into a glass of bourbon. 

Unfortunately, much like I am let down by most bourbons (sorry, bourbon-lovers…just not my preferred profile), first sips of this one were an immediate grounding.  All the sparkle and shine of atmospheric promise hinted at on the nose fizzled into undeveloped potential.  I can imagine this whisky at 20-25 years of age would be an absolute show-stopper.  As it is in the here-and-now…passing grades, for sure, but at the end of the day…its a middling malt. 

It’s a clean drink, as you’d expect from Auchentoshan  This Lowland distillery is generally reknowned for its use of triple distillation, which results in a light and floral profile.  The sherry here in the Three Wood adds a little more depth of dimension, and slightly tames the almost typically 0ver-light bouyancy so prevalent in most ‘Toshans.  I kinda like that to be honest.  The heft is a good thing.  Of the more ‘entry level’ Auchentoshan range, this is second only to the Valinch.

Call me a cynic, though if you must, but I kinda think there may be a little bit of cosmetic work at play here by the lovely purple tint of very sweet sherry.  It’s amazing what you can enhance when working with good Oloroso and/or PX.  This is just a theory however.  Either way…not a bad dram from Glasgow’s distillery.

Nose:  There’s a lovely sweet cherry top note.  Followed by a lot of spice and some vanilla.  Quite bourbon-ish, in its own way.  Juicy orange.  Think along the lines of vanilla cola meets cherry cola.  Cinnamon hearts.  A little fudge.  Clean and fruity as hell.  Very unexpected nose.

Palate:  Woah!  Not even close to as good as the nose hints at.  Immediately tannic.  Into green grass notes.  Still a lot of sherry here.  Almond/amaretto.  Burnt sugar makes it a little…puckering.   Loses a mark or two based on the attack. 


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Auchentoshan

Auchentoshan Valinch 2011 Review

Auchentoshan Valinch 2011

57.5% abv

Score:  88/100


Whisky…meet creamsicle.  Creamsicle…whisky.  Now that introductions are out of the way, I know you will two will get on fabulously.

I love it when I come into something with high expectations and am not let down.  Early indicators were that this was quite a showstopper of a young Lowland, and I am pleased to say that we were not mislead.

Industry folk…take heed.  This expression is the direct result of Auchentoshan responding to the consumer cry for unadulterated purity in whisky.  The distillery listened and gave us what we wanted.  The good publicity they are reaping, I hope, more than offsets any concerns that may have had them hedging.  Not only are we happy to be ackowledged, but we’re tickled f*cking pink to have been delivered a dram of this quality.

The nose…

Creamy vanilla ice cream, orange and tangerine.  Think creamsicle, as I alluded to in the first lines above.  This is like a creamy dessert malt if ever I met one.  Very, very fresh mouthwatering fruit.  Smooth, sweet almond notes provide a subtle icing over the oak base.  Man…I would never…ever…peg this as an Auchentoshan.  Beautiful composition and obviously stellar cask policy.  I think all reviews I’ve read referred to that orange/tangerine combo, and sure ‘nough…both I and the Maltmonster found those notes screaming from the rooftops on first meet as well.

The palate brings sweet orange fruit candy and pears in syrup.  Vanilla is right up front, but in a subtle sashaying way…none too in your face.  It is slightly jammy as well.  Still young and lovely for it.

I’m a fan.  And the most pleasant surprise of all?  The wee l’il price tag attached.  Brilliant.  Thanks, Auchentoshan…you’ve made a believer.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Irish Reparation


Breaking news today from a Hollywood insider that Michael Moore may be buying the screen rights to a story on the Irish claim to Auchentoshan.  This unnamed Hollywood insider is quoted as saying “this is a story that will rock the very foundations of the Scottish Whisky Association”.

It’s been long suspected that Auchentoshan and surrounding area were part of Ireland and, in fact, still are.  It’s also been said that the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) has had a history of bullying, suppression, possible buggery and much more (Glen Breton as example).  Other non-credible unnamed sources have clearly stated that Dan Brown may be considering writing this sure-to-be-best-selling novel.

To back up the Irish claim to the distillery, the following are the facts and they are undisputed:

1)      500 AD  Irish Missionaries return from the Mediterranean region with the knowledge of distillation.

2)      590-600 AD  An Irish monk named Mirren, now referred to as Saint Mirren, founded a religious order on the future site of Paisley Abbey very near Auchentoshan.  His mission was to save and educate the Scottish heathens in the ways of life and double distillation.

3)      1245 AD  The Irish Priory on the site of an old Celtic church founded by Saint Mirren was upgraded to an Abbey, which it remains to this day, the Paisley Abbey.

4)      1516 AD  Paisley Abbey, to increase revenues, allows the land where Auchentoshan stands today to be used for unlicensed double distilling.  The Irish still retain the secret of triple distillation.

5)      March 17, 1817 AD  John Bullock & Co. takes control of the land and in 1823 builds a licensed distillery named Duntocher.  Duntocher translated (Dun / Tair) from Irish Gaeilge to English means closed fort of the wretched, or prison.  Convicted Irish Criminals, called Cons, were conscripted from a town named Leap in County Cork.  These short-statured people were referred to as ‘the Cons from Leap’, or simply as ‘Leaprecons’.   These Leaprecons, with exceptional long life spans (due to drinking triple distilled whisky) and knowledge of the secret art of triple distillation, were forced to work in the production of whisky.

6)      1830 AD  A group of Scottish distillers form with a mandate to; control whisky production, learn the secret art of triple distillation and move the Irish out.  This group would later be called SWA.  This dark period in time is called the ‘Great Purge’.

7)      Friday June 13, 1834 AD  John Bullock & Co., under great pressure from the SWA, was forced to dispose of the Duntocher Distillery to Alexander Filshie, a member of the SWA.  The Irish prisoners are dealt with and the Distillery is quickly renamed Auchentoshan.  Auchentoshan translated (Acht / Tost / Am) from Irish Gaeilge to English means ‘the act of silence over time’.  Most Leaprecons buried their valuables and fled for their lives.  Rumors say that what few Leaprecons survived the time of the great purge ended up in Campbeltown, captured and forced by the locals to apply their secret art of triple distillation at Springbank.

8)      1940 AD  A team of archeologists digging in the corner of the field at Auchentoshan uncover metal pots containing very valuable items, some say treasure.  Before the removal process could begin the site was supposedly bombed by the German Luftwaffe.  No witnesses can testify to this event, other than hearing loud explosions at night and seeing what could have been SWA employees leaving town.  The site of this archeological dig is now under water and serves as the cooling plant for the Distillery.

9)      2008 AD  The distillery sold a three sided water container with the word ‘distillation’ on all three sides misspelled with the word ‘distellation’.  As we all know, Latin was the preferred language of the Irish monks, and ‘distell’ in Latin means to tell god.  We understand the author of the misspelled word may work at the Abbey and may be trying to right the injustice done to the Leaprecons and bring to light the possible bad deeds of the SWA.

As a testament to the fallen Leaprecons, we honor them on Saint Patrick’s Day with a tasting of four different expressions of (Irish) Auchentoshan.

A couple o' fine ol' Auchentoshans


50 YEAR OLD APRIL 15, 1957 – JULY 17, 2007 49.1 % ABV BOTTLE # 45 OF 144

132 GALLONS OF NEW SPIRIT FILLED AT 68 % ABV IN AN OLOROSO CASK #480 AND MATURED IN WAREHOUSE NUMBER THREE (thank you to Andrew Ferguson at KWM for the wee sample)

NOSE:  Floral.   Marzipan, slight hint of cheese and raisins.

TASTE:  Chewy butterscotch, oranges and pecans.

FINISH:  Medium.  Tart and lingering.

ASSESSMENT:  Its ok…but for fifty it’s just not nifty.  Sure the old who are not strong do not whither, but they don’t taste any better.


50 YEAR OLD APRIL 15, 1957 – DECEMBER 12, 2007 46.8 % ABV BOTTLE # 157 OF 171

132 GALLONS OF NEW SPIRIT FILLED AT 68 % ABV IN AN OLOROSO CASK #479 AND MATURED IN WAREHOUSE NUMBER THREE (thank you to Andrew Ferguson at KWM for the ample sample)

NOSE:  Toffee and eucalyptus are battling it out at the start, giving way to cherries and some ripe oranges.

TASTE:  Little tart at the beginning then it totally transforms to creamy butterscotch.  WOW!  Chocolate, melons, citrus fruits and a little black liquorice.

FINISH:  long and warming at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Much lighter in color than cask # 480 .Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods thyself, (Thanks Milton) it’s that good

Auchentoshan 1976



NOSE:  Toffee, honeydew melon, cherries and menthol.

TASTE:  Butterscotch overload.  Chocolate and marmalade jam.

FINISH:  Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT:  What an outstanding cask. The light triple distilled spirits pick up almost a sherry type influence from the wood interaction. Was told back in 2006 that they only purchased half the cask. Hard to believe they still have some bottles left in 2011.

Auchentoshan 1978



NOSE:  Kentucky bourbon sweet.  Bit of varnish, cherries and oranges.

TASTE:  Spice, almonds and oily buttery notes at the back end.

FINISH:  Medium.  Drying.

ASSESSMENT:  This really has a new bourbon favor to it.  Let the Bourbon take hold and find yourself floating like a leaf down the Cahulawassee River whilst the genetically compromised hill people gently serenade you with Banjo music from the surrounding hills.


What does the world want as reparation?  Well…first they want the Scottish Whisky Association to formally thank the Irish for sharing and teaching them the art of distillation.  Second…they want a formal apology to Glen Breton for taking them to court and wasting their valuable time and money.  Lastly…we would have the use of the Diageo (Head of the SWA) corporate jet for a week to allow the ATW Associates & Friends to visit Scotland and pay homage to the fallen Leaprecons.




          – Maltmonster