It Ain’t Heavy–It’s a Lowland: Auchentoshan 12

The Auchentoshan 12 is one level above their Classic, but it’s still a rather entry-level malt. Add that to the 40% ABV, the caramel e150, and probably chill-filtration, and you’ve got yourself a “branded whisky” as Ralfy would say. Pile it with the 12s of Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Bowmore and the rest, I thought. This is, admittedly, why it has taken me so long to try it. Though I may love Auchentoshan’s Valinch and 18yo, I couldn’t bring myself to buy a bottle of this… until now.

Nose: Light, creamy toffee, chocolate, and cereal notes I’d associate with a mature Auchentoshan. It doesn’t have many of the fruity, citrusy notes that the Valinch has. It’s practically all dessert (mostly confectioneries), and I love it. Slightly grassy in the background (again, one of the reasons I love a good ‘toshan). Slight bit of smoke behind it all.

Palate: Oily as all hell, and I don’t know how they managed to do this. Oilier than Highland park 12, taking the prize for the chewiest low ABV whisky. Honey-heather, cinnamon and toffee. All the confectioneries you’d find in the nose come through the palate, clearly. Love the mouth-feel of this one.

Finish: Medium (maybe a bit on the short side of medium). Some ‘apple juice’ notes on the finish, and icing sugar. The finish is rather short, but this is probably indicative of the strength (40%) of the whisky. At Cask-strength (or even just 46%!) this could easily become one of my favourite whiskies.

Grade: B-

I do sorely want to give this a B. It has everything I really love in a dessert whisky, but it’s missing that extra kick that bottling it at 46% might give. It’s the best of the daily drams, though, that’s for sure. Ditch the e150, the chill-filtration, and kick it up a notch, and I might even put this at a B+. Till then, a daily dram it will stay. For the price though, heck, that’s alright with me.

Hot-Tempered from Bangalore: Amrut Fusion

Ever since Curt at All Things Whisky raved about the Amrut Fusion (giving it a whopping 91.5/100) and all Amrut in general, I’ve been meaning to pick up a bottle. Instead of being skeptical about non-scotch whisky, I was eager to try it, and at $69.10, you couldn’t really beat the price for something at 50% ABV.

Months went by and I hadn’t done anything about it until a few weeks ago when a spot opened up in the cabinet. The first dram was heaven, the second was mediocre, and we’ve had a seesaw relationship since, but I think things are finally starting to come around…

Nose: A masala of spices, mixed with honey and chocolate sweetness right off the bat. Think cinnamon and cardamom. Also a cereal quality to it. Spend some time with it and then you get apricots, orange and mixed nutes.

Palate: Oaky with plenty of honeyed oats on the palate. Salty apricot and coriander. Smoke as well.

Finish: Medium, salty, oak and oats.

Grade: B

I don’t know if it’s just me, but here’s another tempermental whisky. It doesn’t swim at all, probably due to it’s youth. A drop or two of water at best. It’s better to let it sit, though, 30 minutes easy. You’re much better rewarded to have the alcohol evaporate than to water down both it and the flavour of the whisky. It gets hot and dull with too much water. This one is at the lower end of my B, just a few darts away from the B-. If the notes were all more pronounced and clean, it’d be a solid B. Maybe future batches will be. In any case, definitely worth a try, but if you’re not used to high ABV whisky, this one may not be for you, as the usual watering-down technique will only worsen the experience.