Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc

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Let me set the scene. I’m at my laptop, and a press release from Auchentoshan’s PR pops into my inbox letting me know about their upcoming sauvignon blanc finish. Initial reaction was of pleasant intrigue; triple distilled Lowland spirit, initial ex-bourbon cask maturation, and finished in French oak barriques which previously held crisp, fresh, and citrusy sauvignon blanc wine. Tick, tick, tick. Sounds like a good match, I thought.

Then I started reading, and if you follow Andy Flatt’s writings over at The Amateur Drammer, you’ll see exactly why I was instantly turned off. I won’t steal his thunder, but when I read that this whisky is “a unique innovation that disrupts the category” which sets out to “reflect the ever-changing needs of the urban millennial”, you could actually hear my eyes rolling into next week. I urge you to head over to his blog and read his systematic take down of how not to write a press release. Some brands should really take note. Anyway, in order to taste this whisky without the prejudice of several paragraphs of marketing bollocks at the front of my mind, I let the sample sit on my desk for a couple of weeks, so I’m just getting to it now.

Cynical hat off, tasting hat on.

Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc
Amazon Exclusive
47% ABV
£50 here

Nose: A little spirity initially but it soon settles down with green apple, lemon sherbet, barley water, vanilla icing, fresh laundry, white pepper, and sawdust.

Palate: Vanilla sponge, white chocolate mice, pink wafers, marshmallows, melon and peaches in syrup. There’s a nice grassy, sweet hay, lemon zest thing going on too.

Finish: Creamy and citrusy, with some fresh oak.

Overall: In terms of the liquid, it’s a good brand extension for those who enjoy Auchentoshan 12yo or the American Oak – there’s a lot of those same light, grassy, citrusy notes, underpinned with a firm, but clean, oakiness. There’s been a few comments about their recommended serving suggestion, of serving the whisky on ice with a slice of apple, or storing the bottle in the freezer, but to be honest, I don’t mind that at all. Why not experiment with how you enjoy a whisky? The price point is perhaps a little on the high side, although it is on deal at the moment for £42. Something I don’t really care for is that this whisky is only available from Amazon, which follows on from two Amazon exclusive Bowmore and Laphroaig expressions Beam Suntory released recently. Why piss off all the smaller, independent, local retailers that you’ve worked with for years and years, and give exclusive rights for a product to the single biggest multinational ecommerce site which is squeezing the life out of said retailers? I can live with the marketing nonsense, but not the Amazon exclusivity I’m afraid.




  1. Hi Tiger,
    You’re right to also point out the meaningless buzz phrases used in press releases (Beam Suntory have come a cropper here but they’re hardly the only guilty party). Do marketing departments expect news and social media outlets to translate all this back into something ‘the consumer’ will understand? It’s a strange way of doing things.
    On a related point, why in the hierarchy of communications is it so important to ‘innovate’ and ‘disrupt categories’? Are these in any way relevant for people buying and drinking the product? Maybe it’s now considered gauche by the marketeers, but we don’t see many people saying ‘we just tried to make it as good as possible’.
    The Amazon thing makes my blood boil – possibly more than the PR guff. You’re spot on and it’s just like turning your back on long-term partners who will actually engage with customers and sell based on relationships. Why make Amazon even more powerful?
    Cheers for your thoughts as always.

  2. Hi James,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve picked on this press release in particular as it was laden with all sorts of marketing jargon and buzzwords-of-the-month, but you’re correct; the same phrases appear in almost any new product press release I receive (and I receive multiple press releases per day). The more everyone tries to be unique, innovative or disruptive, the more everyone is the same.

    I absolutely agree that there’s a clear disconnect between what I read in brand comms and what consumers actually listen to. There’s nothing wrong with simply saying ‘we did this cask experiment and we thought it created tasty whisky’. Average Joe Public who attends a whisky festival or browses the shelves of his local specialist retailer isn’t giving a toss about that. He/she is looking at flavour, price point, and (possibly) age. How disruptive, or innovative, or redefining (that final one really grinds my gears) a product is likely won’t register on your regular whisky drinkers’ radar.

    The hook up with Amazon is a bizarre decision, not in a commercial sense but in a reputational one. I can imagine there being some quite ‘interesting’ conversations between domestic retailers and Beam Suntory reps in 2020…



  3. Whenever I see the word ‘unique’ in a press release (and some still make their way to me, sadly), I know the agency has had a lazy day in the office.

  4. Very nice article. I certainly love this site. Keep writing!

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