Another independent bottler that has suddenly commanded my attention, they offer quality liquid at very good prices and are not afraid to offer up younger whiskies, so this can only be a good thing right ?
Right.. Of course its a good thing, age is relatively un important when it comes to whisky, the only real important figure is 3.. Its not whisky until its 3 years old, and that’s all we really need to know, the age statement written on the bottle is just an indicator, its not a quality stamp! It certainly does not guarantee you will like it.
Bartels have released a good amount of younger whisky and this latest offering once again comes in under that magical 10 year statement.. Brave, its brave.. Not really, its shows they believe in the quality of liquid and that’s enough for me..
So how did I stumble across Bartels, well its a very interesting story so grab a glass of something, sit back and listen while I explain..
They were at a festival ! there I told you it was interesting..
Ok ill expand a little, festivals are a great way of trying product from both distilleries and independent bottlers that you might not know or you might just not have had the opportunity to try before.. Bartels is kind of like that for me, I have now attended two festivals where the people from Bartels have been set up opposite me showcasing their wares. I have looked, I have walked past without paying too much attention and that has been my loss!! The stand always looks fantastic, its always busy and it showcases single cask whiskies at cask strength so what the hell was going through my mind ? well obviously not a lot !! This time however I spoke with them and shared a dram or two from both our stands while we chatted, that chat resulted in me buying my first two bottles from them, that figure now stands much higher !
While chatting we spoke about some possible up coming releases and the name Auchentoshan was mentioned, I stopped them right there.. Tell me more..
I was gutted when they told me it wasn’t available for a few more months, I badgered them, constantly, I wanted more info, guess who gave in first !! I can be persuasive..
I was asked to keep it under wraps, the release date wasn’t fully set in stone so obviously it wouldn’t be great for them if I rave about it when they couldn’t sell, this review might end up sitting for a while but I couldn’t wait any longer to dive in.. sorry..
I am not going to go into too much detail here as I have probably exhausted just about every fact on the distillery within the many previous reviews I have done on Auchentoshan , after all it is my favourite distillery..
What I will say though is finding Bourbon casks from the distillery is not the easiest of things, these days its all about the sherry casks and wine barrels, that’s fine but some of the bourbon releases have been stunning ! I am not talking about general core range offerings here but rather the distillery exclusives and those released by the independent bottlers..
The distillery has undergone a radical change in the approach they take, these days they are all about the on trade side, bars, cocktails, hipster guys and girls shaking their shakers and trendy shit like that. Some of us more established drinkers just don’t do that, but that’s life, things move on, times change and so its up to us to either keep up or sit back and remember the good ole days..
I chose to remember the good old days, the days when single casks of bourbon matured whisky was on offer, releases like Valinch ( a young bourbon matured, cask strength, official release) and several bottle your own bourbon casks were all the rage.. I miss those days..
BUT….. The independent bottlers have taken me under their wings and given me hope..
9 Year Old Auchentoshan – Bartels – Highland Laird
Age.. 9 years
Abv.. 60.0 %
Bottle number.. 13/216
Cask.. First fill Bourbon – #700923
At the time of writing this piece, this bottle was unreleased and due to come out shortly afterwards but due to the Covid 19 outbreak the bottle was held from release.. It has been very hard to keep it quiet but at long last it will be released..
Nose.. Vanilla, caramel and soft malty aromas just wrap themselves around an abundance of floral and soft citrus notes. Freshly cut wet grass, delicate nutty aromas along with a soft cereal note envelop around freshly peeled apples, soft poached pear and vanilla, mix all this together and it just becomes divine and enticing..
Palate.. A peppery heat evolves into soft fruits, along with a divine sweetness from vanilla, caramel, honey and milk chocolate just encase those very typical lemon zest notes, dried grass and nutty flavours that Auchentoshan is well known for..
Finish.. Spices and that citrus bitterness linger..
Thoughts.. If you can understand the subtle side of this Auchentoshan triple distilled single malt whisky then you are going to fall in love, the triple distilled liquid offers so much flavour and aromas but they can be so delicate that they are often over looked! This however has come from a first fill Bourbon cask so the sweetness is a little more pronounced than the typical younger offerings from the refill casks.
Everything you expect / want from Auchentoshan is there, those delicate floral notes, the citrus aromas / flavours, the nuttiness and that very typical hay or dried grass note certainly all shine! Add the extra sweetness and this becomes a Eureka moment..
I so want to tell you this is terrible, don’t waste your money, but that is just so I can have it all to myself.. But alas I cant.. If you want a very good, single cask, cask strength, young Auchentoshan matured in a first fill Bourbon cask for a very reasonable £52, then look no further, but let me tell you there are now 6 bottles less !! The only thing I will add, this does benefit from a little water, its a whopping 60% and it shows, that said it is still bloody nice at full strength..
You will find the bottle for sale HERE ( Release date should be April / May 2020 )