Whisky Focus - Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Review

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Review

20th August 2013
First time for Auchentoshan, a solely virgin oak matured whisky.

After a bit of a summer break away from keeping you all up to date with what's new in the world of Scotch Malt Whisky I thought I would ease myself back into it by reviewing Auchentoshan's latest offering to us malt whisky drinkers. (It's a tough job but someone's got to do it!)

The Auchentoshan Virgin Oak is a limited edition single malt which is non chill-filtered just as we like it and bottled at 46% ABV. I am not sure how limited a release this is but if I find out I will let you know.

Traditionally the Auchentoshan whisky we all know is matured in ex-Bourbon casks or ex-sherry casks or even in a combination of both but as the "Virgin Oak" name tells us this new offering from the lowland distillery on the outskirts of Glasgow was matured solely in new virgin North American oak casks that have never been influenced or tamed by another spirit.

The worry with using new virgin oak casks is that the wood can overpower the characteristics of the whisky maturing in it especially a subtle floral fruity lowland whisky like Auchentoshan but if done correctly it can add a whole new dimension to a whisky.

Intuition and industry knowledge led the team at Auchentoshan to believe they could challenge the firmly entrenched belief that Scotch whisky must be matured in ex-bourbon or sherry casks. Since the millennium, Auchentoshan has placed small batches of the unique, triple distilled spirit in virgin North American oak whose charred surfaces have held neither bourbon nor sherry.

Auchentoshan Brand Ambassador Gordon Dundas commented: "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."

You will find the Auchentoshan Virgin Oak available from Whisky specialist shops priced around 69.99


Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Tasting Notes

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Vanilla, coconut sugar sweetness, lemon, nutmeg and as the label says virgin oak but not too sharp as can be the case with virgin oak matured whisky.

Taste: Spicy oak, very smooth, coconut, sweet vanilla, caramel, rose petal, a bit of orange.

Finish: Creamy vanilla, orange, mildly drying oak spice.

Comment: I have to say I enjoyed this, virgin oak casks can sometimes be overpowering, leaving you with a woody spice monster whisky to chew on, this is certainly not the case here. This has plenty of virgin oak but it doesn't cancel out Auchentoshan's subtle fruity floral characteristics. Auchentoshan without Bourbon or sherry cask maturation is quite a different expression of Auchentoshan Scotch single malt whisky, in a good way. Unfortunately I think the price tag may be a stumbling block for those who may have wanted to try this. It may be a very limited release, I will certainly let you know the numbers if I find out.

SMW Score 86/100

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