Auchentoshan Valinch 2011 Limited Release

Wading into the waters of Auchentoshan is exciting. For me, the two expressions I have tried have this very fresh, grassy, barley, flavour—maybe vegetal is the word? I’m not sure. Ever since tasting the Auchentoshan 18, my brain says “Oh! This tastes like an Auchentoshan.” every time that vegetal note pops up. I always say it with delight, too, because I love that note.

Reviewing Auchentoshan is a daunting task, though, because no matter what I say, I know I’m no expert like Mark Dermul (the Toshan Man). That man has tried them all. However, I’ll give my two cents about the Auchentoshan Valinch here, if only to entice people on the fence to give it a try—I mean, a cask-strength Limited Auchie for $65 CAD? A steal, if you ask me. I warn you, though, this one’s going to be a rambler.

Nose: A mostly pleasant nose. It explodes with that freshness that a much older Auchie would give you, but none of the alcohol burn you’d expect from a cask-strength whisky at 57.5% ABV. Fresh-cut barley, rather than grass, but that fits the rest of the nose.  I understand the “peaches” comment by one connsr.com reviewer. There is a lot of that here. Maybe peach cobbler. There is definitely some baked goods here. (Crème brulee?)  Vanilla and citrus notes as well. The downside is that there is this farmy note that lays in the background of this nose. Unfortunate.

Palate: This is where it confused me at first, and I think if you try it without water, you may be disappointed. Without water, it gives you that alcohol burn, and while wonderfully anesthetic, it makes the whole palate dry, and difficult to discern. The first glass was a bit of a disappointment, especially because I had been waiting 6 months for it to hit our shores after word that it was on its way.

The glass needs a good 10-15 minutes to open up, so pour it and let it sit.  Then add as much water as you care to. Different amounts of water bring out different tastes. I can see the differences in the reviews on connsr.com too, because depending on how much water you add, the palate can go from a rather unsweetened baked good like Yorkshire pudding, to something more desserty, like crème brulee. Add a small amount for cinnamon hearts, a medium amount for crème brulee, and some more for Yorkshire batter. Ralfy @ralfy.com adds a whole lot of water (whisky review #279). There seems to be some hints of a really dry chocolate–like 85% cocoa chocolate (or something in that high range). There are other notes I’m just getting acquainted with.

Finish: Long, wonderfully classic Auchentoshan. A revisit of the palate, again and again and…

Grade: B

All in all, this dram gives me that glimpse into what a cask-strength Auchentoshan 18 might be like. Oh what a perfect glass that would be! I’ll give my thoughts on the Auchentoshan 18 in a later post. It’s a good dram for being so young, but that background farmy note kind of dampens my enthusiasm a little bit.

To end this, the Auchentoshan Valinch is an excellent value for the money. Moreover, it’s a very refreshing dram, so it’s come to Toronto just in time.

Tasting update: The Auchentoshan Valinch is now more of a B. It is still reasonably complex, and a wonderfully desserty lowlander that can take a lot of water and still hold up, if not becoming all the better for it. The farmy note on the nose is it’s only dart.

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