Another permanent change in lineup, this time from Auchentoshan. Gone is the bland-ish Auchentoshan Classic, and in its place another NAS triple-distilled release, this time matured exclusively in first-fill ex-bourbon American Oak. At a retail place of around $35, this is definitely a worthwhile upgrade. According to the press release, Auchentoshan selects casks from both the top and bottom of their warehouse and marries them together to create American Oak. Thanks again to Manuela at Savona Communications for the sample.
Nose: Vanilla and raw barley. Notes are very similar to Irish blended whisky. Light brown sugar and freshly-cut hardwood. A slight overripe banana note underlies the rest, and becomes more prominent as the dram rests. Clean, crisp, and light, like the Auchentoshan Classic, but with more apparent oak character and a little extra malty sweetness – a nice upgrade.
Palate: Light bodied, but with a slight “simple syrup” texture. Melted vanilla ice cream, some oaky tannins, and mild toasted barley.
Finish: Short. Very slightly bitter, but with pleasant notes of kettle corn as it fades.
With Water: A few drops of water accentuate (unfortunately) the banana notes, adding green banana to the mix. Stay away from water with this one – it certainly doesn’t need it at 40% ABV.
Overall: As a value malt, this has a few ticks in its favor over the Classic, which it is replacing in the permanent Auchentoshan portfolio. The Classic suffered from anemia and definitely is bolstered by the added oak character, which is well executed, and doesn’t come across as an afterthought or cover-up. My one issue, which might be a personal taste thing, is that I cannot abide the “rotten banana” note that so often creeps into scotch aged in first-fill ex-bourbon wood. I have it on good authority, however, that many people find this particular banana note to be pleasant. If you’re one of those people, then $35 is not an unfair price for this light, straightforward NAS malt.