Blind Tasting Competition day 18: Auchentoshan 1998-2014, 16yo, 59.1% – Malts of Scotland

Today is a weird day. It’s the last day of the competition and I’m sucking every step of the way. My highest score is 50 points, which was for a whisky of which I had the region right and was only one year off with the age.

So, at the moment I’m writing this I’m 42nd of the 72 participants. This is quite depressing, but I’m quite happy with the drams I’ve tasted. This year was an epic line of whiskies with today’s whisky maybe being the best. It’s hard to remember each and every one of them, but today’s is already pending for the wish list. It all depends on availability and price.

I have no idea what it is, however. As in, on other days I THOUGHT I had an idea to what it was. This time, however, I have none. I think it’s a highlander. I think it’s got some decent time in oak. I’m thinking it’s a sherry hogshead, or refill sherry at the least. I also think it’s not too strong, but cask strength at just over 50%.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

It’s quite smooth, but intense. Lightly sherried with grilled peach. Fruity and sweet with toasted oak. Honey, cherries and some nuts. Smooth, but there’s a lot going on.

The palate is sharp, with quite a lot of pepper. Some light smoke. Oak, fruit, and slightly sweet. Also slightly bitter as well, with lots of oak and some honey.

The finish is quite smooth with oak and slightly drying. Bitter and sweet, some honey and pine wood. Rather long too.

This is an awesome dram. One that offers a lot of complexity and has a hell of an awesome aroma to it. I loved every aspect of it. It could be anything and I’m hoping it’s some sort of off-the-beaten-path whisky that makes me focus on something else than the usual suspects. Last year that worked with the Imperial that was tasted on Day 18.

Anyway, I love the honey on the palate and the bitter and sweet combination. I love bitter as a flavor. I also like that it’s not the strongest, or fiercest whisky of the list but still has some punch to it. Fruit, some spices I can’t identify, oak, with none of them overpowering something else.

After the reveal: It’s a Christmas whisky! And an Auchentoshan. A friggin’ Auchentoshan. They must have gone through some trouble to find, approximately, the only really good Auchentoshan. It doesn’t taste like any Auchentoshan I’ve ever had, so that’s kind of a bummer for my score. Another zero points. It didn’t taste like almost 60% either, and my age was way off.

This made my final position 43rd out of 72 participants. Quite a shitty result, to be honest. I might have to do more blind tastings over the year!

Auchentoshan 1998-2014, 16yo, 59.1%, Malts of Scotland. Available until yesterday for € 109

The list for participation in 2016’s Blind Tasting Competition has already opened, and is filling up rapidly. Thanks to the Usquebaugh Society for enabling this, and to Ewald L. for the tremendous amount of work he’s put in, to make this all possible. Awesome, I’ve never had a blind tasting that was this much fun!

The fun was good, and the whiskies were tremendous. Mostly.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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