Auchentoshan 23 Maltbarn

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Recently there was a nice Toronto Whisky Society tasting in which a private whisky owner shared an interesting group of whiskies with a group of us.

The line-up was, in a word, prettyfuckingamazingballs. And if that isn’t a word, I suggest Webster’s contact me, because if an emoji can make it in, the above should have a chance.

Recently there’s been a few whisky fans tell me about an Auchentoshan that differs from the standard. And whenever I hear about that, I’m a bit sad. Because contrary to a few of my whisky drinking friends, I enjoy Auchentoshan. In specific cases.

I’ve said it before, Auchentoshan is best at cask strength. Some would call me out on that, mentioning that I enjoy all whiskies at cask strength, and there’s been so few that I don’t always like that you could count them using an accident-prone fireworks tech’s right hand to keep track.

But where I differ is I always feel Auchentoshan needs to be cask strength to be great. Some may differ on that, and there are some lower Auchentoshan I’ve enjoyed, but to get to that great point it really needs to be above 46%.

The idea behind Maltbarn themselves is simple: Move to a barn in the middle of Germany and pick out good whiskies regardless of the recent hype. The owner knows whisky like the back of his hand and knows how to pick them.

Auchentoshan 23 Maltbarn is the combination of those things. I’m told this is an Auchentoshan that differs from the norm, and it’s selected by a German who lives on a farm. If that doesn’t grow your gander or giggle your goose, you might want to check your pulse, cause you may be dead.

Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

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Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Lowland

Vintage: 1992

Bottled: 2015

Age: 23 years old

Cask Type: Bourbon Cask

Number of bottles: 134

Abv: 52%

Colour: 5Y 8/8

Nose: Butter, sage, mineral, green apple, lychee

Initial nose is a bit sweet, but more of one of those savoury pasta dishes with sweet potatoes that you can’t figure out if it’s hipstery, old world, or just happening cause its autumn. It’s nice.

This particular one has some mineral and green apple, and water brings out more and more sweetness. It is missing a floral aspect of Auchentoshan.

Taste: Green apple, herbal, vanilla, cloves/chocolate, floral

More tart aspects, more herbal, and nice vanilla. Water really shows off the ex-bourbon cask at work here.

And wait…. Now we’re getting that Auchentoshan flowers, but it’s way, way down there. I’d even go so far to say it’s probably due to the floral vanilla or cloves aspect than anything else.

Finish: Mineral, cloves, butter, malt, cinnamon bread, grass

Finish starts with a lot of minerals. Again we have a simple buttery dram with mineral and then water comes in, brings out the spice, and maybe hints at the true patronage of the dram.

Conclusion: Opens up with water, goes from okay to good. Without a tiny bit of water, this dram would be an easy pass. With a bit of water? We get somewhere. Sweets, interesting tropical aspects, different floral and grassiness than normal (though that’s debatable really) and even some big sweet aspects on the finish.

It’s certainly for people who aren’t Auchentoshan fans. It’s certainly more interesting than most low abv. Auchentoshan. It certainly takes the ex-bourbon cask and runs with it.

I was just missing eating flowers.

83/100

Scotch review #990, Lowland review #41, Whisky Network review #1554

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