This is not a Ben Nevis. It was not distilled in 1991 and it was not bottled by Signatory. But it is from a sherry cask and from a distillery that often produces very fruity whisky: Auchroisk. I haven’t had too many—and have reviewed even less—but the best have been very good indeed. Such, for example, was the one 1990 I’ve previously reviewed—this 24 yo bottled by Signatory for Binny’s, which I scored a little lower than I should have. If this one is as good I’ll be very happy indeed; I certainly hope that the sherry maturation won’t have covered up the fruit (as it hadn’t in the case of last week’s Ben Nevis trio). Let’s see.
Auchroisk 22, 1990 (49.8%; Whisky-Fässle; sherry cask; from my own bottle)
Nose: Copper coins, leather and a big dose of fruit running through it (orange peel, plantain, apricot). The orange peel expands as it sits and the oak begins to peep out here as well. Water brightens it up and pulls out malt and toffee. As it sits the fruit gets muskier too (more tropical accents).
Palate: Comes in much the same way on the palate but then the fruit expands as I swallow, picking up makrut lime and some dried, candied pineapple. The texture feels just a bit thin. On the second sip the fruit is bigger still and there’s some bitter oak and some walnuts to go with it and then an increasingly leafy note. With time the fruit and copper and oak come together nicely and are joined by some roasted malt. Okay, let’s add some water. Brighter here too with water (citrus) and the balance is thrown a bit with the coppery note a little too strong.
Finish: Medium. The fruit doesn’t hang out as long as I was hoping it would and it’s the oak that makes the final impression—and it’s spicier now. The finish lengthens as it sits and the development on the palate follows through with the apricot and roasted malt having the last word. Longer still and more acidic with water.
Comments: This is really very nice. The big fruit that is often present in older Auchroisk is here and not masked by the sherry. And speaking of sherry, it’s not present in the style of “sherry bomb” whiskies: the sherry maturation is most evident in the oak and nut; it adds earthy counterpoint to the fruit of the distillate. I liked the nose better with water but preferred the palate neat. It’s just a lack of oomph (especially on the nose) and the relatively thin texture that keeps it from heading to the next tier.
Rating: 88 points.