I think I can say safely that this is the oldest Auchentoshan I’ve ever had. I’ve not had too many Auchentoshans of any age, actually—I’ve not been a big fan of most of what I’ve had and have therefore not sought out much more. On the one hand, the general profile seems to fall in an acidic bourbon cask spectrum made all over the Speyside; on the other, there’s been something a bit weird about most of the few I’ve had that I can’t quite describe (though I did like this 14 yo from Cadenhead’s). Anyway, I’ll be interested to see what longer aging has done to this cask, which was bottled jointly by Whisky Fässle and Whiskybase (for their Archives label). It seems to have divided opinion on Whiskybase quite widely—there are a lot of ratings for it and they go evenly from the high 70s to the low 90s. Consequently, perhaps, this is still available.
Auchentoshan 23, 1990 (47.7%; bourbon hogshead 6850; Archives; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Starts out bright with tart apple; rounder malty notes below it and the smell of wet earth/stones after rain. The apple gets sweeter with a bit of air. After a bit there’s a sharper aroma somewhere between citronella and mothballs and then sweeter fruit again: pears now and just a hint of nectarine. Rounder and sweeter with water.
Palate: A bit blank to start but then there’s malt and lime with a bigger burst of fruit as I swallow. On the second sip it’s a bit metallic/grassy to start. With more time the note of milky coffee that was emerging on the finish shows up earlier. Despite an abv below 50% it has a rich mouthfeel. With more time that metallic note becomes just a tad too strong. And water doesn’t do anything to push it back.
Finish: Medium. Ah yes, the fruit emerges fully here, delicate but very present: peach, kiwi. Hints of milky coffee along the edges as well. With water the metallic note continues into the finish.
Comments: This is an odd one: most of the most interesting action is on the finish, which is where the fruit really emerges and mixes nicely with that coffee note (something very Irish about that). That’s not so say that there’s anything wrong with the nose or palate. Indeed, it’s a very enjoyable whisky on the whole: light and drinkable with a sudden burst of complexity at the end. I’d hold the water.
Rating: 86 points.