Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 23

23 12 2014

Three posts in less than 24 hours?  I’m officially on Christmas holidays, so why not?  Kensington Wine Market’s Whisky Advent Calendar advertises on the box that one of the included whiskies is more than 40 years old; I haven’t seen it yet and it wasn’t behind door #23 tonight, so I know what awaits on Christmas Eve!  Unfortunately, the penultimate whisky in the calendar is nowhere near as exciting, and it kills any buzz that might have been built up by the incredible GlenDronach Parliament yesterday.  Not that it’s horrible or anything; it just…is.  It’s a Day 6 whisky instead of a Day 23 whisky.

Not necessarily the way to bring it home.

Not necessarily the way to bring it home.

“It” is the Auchentoshan 18 Year Single Malt, matured entirely in American oak bourbon casks.  This is Auchentoshan’s second appearance on the calendar, having previously underwhelmed with the triple-distilled, triple-matured 3 Wood on three-saturated Day 3.  The 18 Year isn’t going to make me run out and buy Auchentoshan anytime soon, but I will say that they have the absolute best website of any scotch producer I’ve come across this month.  Check out their stellar graphic (scroll down) explaining the ins and outs behind their unique triple distillation process (they are the only scotch producer to triple distill full-time) – that’s more info on distillation than my WSET textbook had.  Good stuff.

Back to the scotch.  The point of triple distillation is to remove additional impurities from the spirit before it is matured; most scotches stop at two distillations, and every pass through the still results in a purer, lighter, cleaner final product.  (It should be pointed out that purity isn’t necessarily the be-all-and-end-all for whisky, as many believe that the remaining impurities in the spirit retain the character of the initial grain and thus help give the whisky its identity.  Different strokes.)  The Auchentoshan was fiery and spicy on the nose, used firewood and cinnamon hearts, mixed with the light sweetness of matcha and pineapple.  Even at 43% alcohol, I thought it showed significantly better with a little water.  The most memorable part of the palate was the whisky’s viscous, oily texture, which carried notes of candied tangerine, vanilla, salted caramel and what I will affectionately refer to as “hamster cage” (cedar shavings, plastic, wet fur).  Nothing about it is offensive, but nothing about it makes me want to pay $118 for it either.  Get ready for the grand finale tomorrow!!

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