Auchroisk 27, 1989 (Cadenhead)

Here to close out sherry cask week and the month on the blog is a 27 yo Auchroisk bottled by Cadenhead in 2016. It is somewhat atypically—based on my experience anyway—a sherry cask. Bourbon cask Auchroisk can be wonderfully fruity and I’ve been intrigued by the distillery ever since I drank this fruit bomb bottled for Binny’s by Signatory some years ago (and which I probably gave too low a score then). Most of the other Auchroisks I’ve had have been bourbon casks as well (for example, this, this and this—the last of those another 27 yo from Cadenhead). But I don’t mean to suggest that I’ve not had any sherry cask Auchroisks before; just last year I reviewed another, a 22, 1990 bottled by Whisky-Fässle. I liked that one a lot and particularly liked that the sherry in that case was not very obtrusive and certainly did not cover up the fruit. I’m a little less sure of this one—the reviews on Whiskybase suggest it may be one best aligned with the tastes of the German market, with more than one reviewer noting the presence of “dirty sherry”, which is another way of saying sulphur. Well, as it happens I don’t mind sulphur when it presents in the savoury gunpowder end of things. But I do hope that it won’t block the fruit. Let’s see how it goes. Continue reading


Auchroisk 22, 1990 (Whisky-Fässle)

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). Continue reading

Auchroisk 24, 1994 (Old Malt Cask 20th Anniv. Release)

Just when you thought you were safe, here’s another review of one of the whiskies released in 2018 to commemorate Old Malt Cask’s 20th anniversary. Most recently from this series I’ve reviewed a Glen Garioch 24, a Teaninich 19, an Inchgower 20, an Ardmore 22, and a Tamdhu 20. All were in the good to very good range, with the Glen Garioch and the Ardmore teetering on the edge of excellence. I’m hopeful that this Auchroisk will be as good as those two—I’ve had other ex-bourbon Auchroisks of similar age that have been wonderfully fruity and malty and that’s a profile I really like—indeed it may be my current favourite profile. Let’s see if this fulfills my hopes.

Auchroisk 24, 1994 (50%; Old Malt Cask 20th Anniv. Release; from my own bottle)

Nose: Honey and big malty, almost bready notes. Beneath it is some toasted oak. As it sits there’s some tart apple and lemon peel as well. Muskier with a drop or two of water and there’s some cream too now. Continue reading

Auchroisk 28, 1988 (Malts of Scotland)

Let us continue with this series of older whiskies. And following last week’s Tomatin 25, Caperdonich 27 and Ben Nevis 27, let’s stick with the “distilleries known for fruity whisky” theme. Like the Tomatin and the Ben Nevis, this Auchroisk was a recent release, and like the Tomatin it was distilled in 1988 and bottled by Malts of Scotland.

Auchroisk continues to not have much of a reputation, which means that independent releases of its whisky can be had for reasonable prices (there’s not much by way of official releases beyond the occasional inclusion in Diageo’s annual special release rosters; well, I guess there’s a “Flora & Fauna” release as well, but I don’t know how regular that is). I’ve not had so very many Auchroisks but have liked most of the ones I’ve had quite a lot, precisely on account of their fruity nature, especially past the age of 20. This 24 yo from Binny’s, in particular, stands out for its exuberant fruit, and I’m still kicking myself for not having got a second bottle. I liked this 27 yo (also from 1988 but bottled by Cadenhead) as well, but it was not quite as much of a fruit bomb. Let’s see where this one falls.  Continue reading

Auchroisk 18, 1988 (Blackadder)

On Monday I had a review of two red wine cask finished Benromachs; I did not care for either one very much. Today, I have a whisky from another Speyside distillery, but this one is altogether more conventional. It’s from Auchroisk, a distillery that does not have too much of a reputation but which often produces single bourbon casks that are rather fruity and pleasant. See, for example, this older one from the Binny’s/Signatory combo that I rather liked some years ago and this one—also from 1988—that I liked just a bit less. This Blackadder was bottled much earlier than the Signatory and the Cadenhead’s—all the way back in 2007, in fact.

The sample came to me from renowned parakeet breeder, Florin. He was his usual taciturn-bordering on sullen self at the time of exchange and I have no idea what he thinks of the whisky. I’m sure he’ll be around soon to tell me I’ve got it all wrong. That’s the kind of person he is—I expect it comes from all the nights spent playing romantic music to parakeets to get them in the mood. Anyway, let’s get to it (as he likes to say when the covers are on the cages).  Continue reading

Auchroisk 27, 1988 (Cadenhead’s)

One of my great, unexpected whisky pleasures in recent years was the explosion of fruit in an Auchroisk 24, 1990 bottled by Signatory for Binny’s. Ever since then I’ve been on the lookout for Auchroisks of similar age and vintage, in the hopes of striking gold again. Accordingly, when I was in London for a week in the summer of 2016 and saw this bottle at the Cadenhead’s shop, I had few qualms about purchasing it even though the salesman was somewhat vague when I asked if this was indeed a fruity Auchroisk (“it’s smooth,” is all he ventured; but that was an odd experience all around, as previously detailed). I opened it for my local group’s premium tasting earlier this year and after getting back from our much longer sojourn in London in the spring, I drank it down pretty fast. These notes were taken just past the midway point of the bottle. Read on to discover if it too presented a lot of fruit or if it was indeed the quintessence of smoothness.  Continue reading

Auchroisk 24, 1990 (Signatory for Binny’s)

Auchroisk 24, 1990, Signatory for Binny's
I passed through Chicago recently and after moaning on Twitter that there was nothing very inspiring on Binny’s website, I found myself inevitably standing in the whisky section of one of their outlets anyway (the branch on W. Grand Ave.). Binny’s has sadly stopped shipping liquor and beer completely. This is a great contemporary American tragedy (and stems from the ancient and ongoing farce of American liquor laws and hypocritical public morality). If Binny’s had not been shipping when I began to take a serious interest in malts I would probably not have developed a serious interest in malts and I would not have a blog now and then where would the world be? Anyway, I went to Binny’s—how can you go to Chicago and not go to Binny’s? And I was glad to see that the store I was in had a decent selection of their recent “handpicked” single malt casks. Brett Pontoni and team don’t make a lot of noise about their selections—no breathless, hyperbolic emails and dubious narratives—but they pick good whisky. And when it comes to ex-bourbon cask selections from less-heralded distilleries there is no American store I trust more. I walked away with bottles from three of them, aged 19-25 (plus a young, sherried Tamdhu). First up, this Auchroisk. Continue reading

Auchroisk 12, 2001 (Cadenhead’s)

Cadenhead's, Auchroisk 12
This Auchroisk is yet one more from my ongoing series of reviews of Cadenhead’s bottles I split with some friends. I’ve quite liked the few Auchroisks I’ve tried so far. Those were both middle-aged (see here and here). What will the story be with this not quite teenager from 2001? As per Cadenhead’s, “[I]n 2011 the character of Auchroisk was changed” with a 72 hour fermentation now employed in place of a 48 hour fermentation. They say that this bottle is “from the old style”. Unless I’m misunderstanding, surely no one has yet tried the new style. If the new fermentation regime was put into place in 2011, nothing distilled from it could be bottled as Scotch whisky till 2014 at the earliest. Or is this a typo and did the fermentation time change in 2001? Does anyone know?

Auchroisk 12, 2001 (59.3%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; bourbon hoghshead; from a bottle split with friends) Continue reading

Auchroisk 19, 1977 (Glenhaven)

Auchroisk 19 Glenhaven
After yesterday’s review of a 20 yo Auchroisk bottled by A.D. Rattray, here’s another of similar age from a different indie bottler. The bottler is Glenhaven (who used to be active in the US some years ago, but are apparently now defunct) and the whisky is from a different era: distilled in 1977 (just a few years after the distillery opened). Though this review is appearing a day later I tasted it right alongside/after the 1991 Rattray bottling in order to be able to get a good sense of possible differences in profile.

Auchroisk 19, 1977 (54.7%, Glenhaven; from a sample received in a swap)

The label on the sample bottle doesn’t say but this seems quite clearly to be from a bourbon cask.   Continue reading

Auchroisk 20, 1991 (A.D. Rattray)

Auchroisk 20, Rattray
This is the first of two reviews of malts from Auchroisk, a distillery I know nothing about other than that it’s in the Speyside, was founded not very long ago, and that almost all of its product goes into Diageo’s blends. Indeed, this may be my first Auchroisk. I thought I’d tried a couple in the past but my spreadsheet has no record of any Auchroisks. This, my friends, is what is known as anti-information. Perhaps your over-taxed brain had room for one more piece of useful minutiae but instead this is what you got. You’re welcome.

Auchroisk 20, 1991(54%, A.D. Rattray ; bourbon cask #16023; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Apples, vanilla cream, malty sweetness. Gets more grassy and there’s a hint of toasted wheat too. With more time there’s more stone fruit and cream (maybe some sort of fruit pastry). A few drops of water pull out some lime and the creaminess recedes.   Continue reading