Auchentoshan Virgin Oak

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak

Virgin Oak is all the rage for Morrison Bowmore at the moment. A couple of months ago Tiger tried the Glen Garioch Virgin Oak release and now we have the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak to sample here at Edinburgh Whisky Blog.

Since the turn of the millenium, Auchentoshan has been putting batches of whisky aside to wholly mature in North American Virgin Oak Casks. Nothing had been in the casks before. No sherry, no bourbon and no fancy-pants wines. Pure whisky on oak, unadulterated by the touch of another alcoholic footprint. In theory this means the wood imparts a whole heap of flavour on the whisky and so most distilleries choose to finish in virgin oak casks for a few months, rather than solely mature for the whole maturation. The thought behind the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak release is best explained by Brand Ambassador Gordon Dundas:

“Auchentoshan  is one of the few distilleries to produce a virgin oak Single Malt. The lightness of the triple distilled spirit makes it perfectly suited to absorbing the unique qualities of the charred virgin oak casks. The result is a lowland whisky that is subtle as well as complex in nature.”

The triple distillation process at Auchentoshan does mean that the final distillate from still No.3 is one of the strongest in the industry; an amazingly high 80 – 82.6% ABV (according to their website). Does the lightness of the spirit mean that it provides an excellent base to absorb the flavours of the virgin oak? Or will the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak be overpowered by the strength of flavour from the naked wood? At RRP £69.99 a bottle I really hope it is the former! Personally, I have high hopes. The Auchentoshan Virgin Oak is bottled at 46% ABV which is a little more punchy than the standard releases, and, from experience, I really like strong Auchentoshan (e.g. the awesome Auchentoshan Valinch). Anyhoo, lets find out:

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak
No age statement
46% ABV
£63.95 Available here

Nose: Straight away I get the typical banana custard note that I loved  about the Auchentoshan Valinch and a big whack of vanilla. It becomes richer and spicier with hot toffee apples and cinnamon. Opens up with pineapple chunks and quite a strong citric note. More air freshener than natural citrus.

Palate: A big flavoured vanilla Angel Delight with a tin of fruit cocktail poured over the top. The pineapple from the nose is prominent, alongside kiwi, orange and spiced apple. The cinnamon is back with hints of ginger and nutmeg. Fruity and vibrant on the palate. A little bit of lime, salt and prickly pear skins comes at the finish.

Finish: Sweet, light and lasting. That prickly pear and lime adding a bit of a kick to the finish.

Overall: This is a great offering from Auchentoshan. A nice vibrant whisky which is packed with a variety of light and spiced fruit notes. Leaves the palate tingling and happy. There is enough there to justify paying the full whack for this bottle, especially if you are a fan of these big, vibrant, fruity whiskies. Personally, I think I prefer the slightly cheaper Valinch, but I would still deem the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak experiment as a definite success.

Bowmore Virgin Oak anyone?

Graeme Gardiner

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