The Whisky Tasting Club


Auchentoshan have unveiled three “exceptional expressions for the discerning whisky drinker”, the 1966, 1979 and the 2012 Valinch.

Rather than simply pass news of this intelligence on to you, we thought it would be a lot more professional if we put their “exceptional” claims to the test and tried the samples ourselves. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t able to part with a sample of the 1966 expression (Bah!) but were very happy to send samples of the 1979 and the Valinch.

Here’s what we (Pat and Tony) thought of them:

Valinch 2012 (57.2% abv)

The valinch is named after the weird metal pipette thingy that is used to draw whisky from the cask. In fact, this is the cask strength version of the Auchentoshan Classic that you can find in many self-respecting supermarkets for a snip. Never having tried that, and not being particular a fan of the 12 or the Three Wood, I had no idea what to expect. Well, actually, that’s not strictly, true; I have tasted some bourbon matured Auchentoshans over the past few years and they were stunning. Proper Lowland whiskies. This one, happily, is matured in first-fill North American ex-bourbon casks, so this looked promising.

Nose: Without water, quite closed but definite toffee, banana custard (an Auchentoshan signature taste, as far as I can work out) and crème brulee. With water it becomes more aggressive with chili spice complimenting the creamy apple elements. In fact, this was like a beefed-up Irish single malt.

Taste: With water, the Irish comparisons continue with apple skins, very light citrus (orange mainly) and sherbet.

Overall, a nice summery dram that didn’t move the earth but was a very pleasant way to spend 10 minutes or so. Auchentoshan, in other words. OK, so let’s move onto the 1979, which, by the look of it, has seen rather a lot of a sherry butt.

Auchentoshan 1979 (50.5%abv)

Only 1000 bottles of this expression were released, and the asking price is somewhere in the region of £350 per bottle. Ouch! Rather than being double matured, this was exclusively matured in an Oloroso sherry cask for the duration. The question is was it a sulphur bomb or a fruit cake extravaganza.

Nose: Bloody gorgeous! Obviously an untainted and high quality sherry butt. Meadow flowers (violets), minty, bitter coffee, sultanas, dates and caramel chocolate.

Taste: At first, clean and heavy sherry, then an explosion of red fruits, strawberry jam, spice, bitter chocolate and chili.

It’s a lot of money and it’s a moot point whether I’d pay £350 for a bottle but if you like whisky matured in great sherry butts, then this must be a contender.

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