It’s no secret (or at least it shouldn’t be a secret) that I feel there should be more Lowland reviews on /r/Scotch . And the reason is simple: They do things very different from the other regions.
On some level, you can point to connections between the other regions. Islay does peat, however Speyside sometimes uses it as well, and Campelton is known for using it (and smoke as well). The Islands are a hodge podge of different regions. And Highland has peat as well, as well as strong fruit components.
However what if someone did something without peat and kept to subtlety? I know, there are some Highlands that do that, yet they usually have an earthy, chocolatey or coffee flavour. Again, there are some exceptions, but if you want something from a region that’s usually light and fruity, we’re back to Lowlands.
Auchentoshan is the typical Lowland. I’d almost say it’s the king of Lowlands, as it’s the most well known. They release a set of travel exclusives, and as we know, travel exclusives are usually not worth it. So when I walked into The Briton’s Protection in Manchester and saw they had (in addition to over 200 whiskies) one of them, the Auchentoshan Heartwood, it was time to enjoy it.
This is a dual cask matured version, aged in both Bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. Let’s see how Auchentoshan Heartwood stacks up on a dual casking.
Price: Travel Exclusive (N/A in Ontario)
Colour: Burnt hay
Nose: Orange, cherry, lemon, butter, sponge cake, dish detergent
This… smells close to the usual 12 year old, yet there’s a little more butter. Also the floral element has gone from a nice, subtle element to cheap, shitty dish detergent.
Taste: Butter, cherry, flowers, maple, lime, orange rind, gelatin powder, lemon
More butter, which is a welcome addition, though there’s almost too much sweetness and a fake, artificial flavour now. It’s not adding too much to this over the classic at this point. It’s really bitter.
Finish: Cherry, pine, cucumber, mushrooms, tarragon, sand, oak
Great, earth has been added to a nice summer dram, just what I wanted (end sarcasm).
Seriously, it seems like too many chefs in the kitchen on this one.
Conclusion: If you ever wanted Auchentoshan to make a Highland, then this is it, and they didn’t do that well with it. I’d avoid this one, there are better out there, unless you specifically like the flavour profile. I don’t.
Scotch review #107, Lowland #12, Whisky Network review #137