The second in a series of eight reviews of recent Cadenhead’s Small Batch releases. I have to say I’m not the greatest fan of Auchentoshan–not that I’ve had that many–and I’m hoping this 14 yo will be to my liking and at least better than the Valinch (2011) that I reviewed some months ago.
Auchentoshan 14, 1999 (55.1%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; bourbon barrel; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Malt, citrus and candied ginger. Some sharp wood below that. Smells younger than it is but smells good. With more time the wood is pine/eucalyptus. Very fresh even as it gets sweeter. And I may be dreaming but I think I’m getting clear notes of juniper now too. Water brings out some vanilla.
Palate: Very gingery at first but followed by malty, musky sweetness and some peppery citrus. On the second sip there’s more wood but the gingery sweetness is the dominant note here. Like yesterday’s Glendullan this is drinkable at full strength with a very nice, slightly oily texture. There’s more bite with water, more pepper and more citrus. More balanced now.
Finish: Medium. Gingery and malty sweet. Quite reminiscent of children’s cough syrup/tonic, but in a good way.
Comments: This is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. I’ve always associated the gingery note that is so intense here with very young whisky. I’ve encountered versions of it in a lot of Amrut, for example, and also, less positively, in the Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve and also in Auchentoshan Valinch (2011)—I didn’t like it in the Valinch but it works here on account of greater balance. And I can’t recall the last time I got so much juniper in a whisky. Better with water.
Rating: 85 points.