In short, yes. Absolutely.
I was lucky enough to be in Glasgow for work this week (fantastic City) and managed to organise a trip to Auchentoshan. Not a whisky I am overly familiar with. Please to say, it was worth every effort.
Just a 30 minute ride from Glasgow centre, the distillery feels it’s on the edge of Scotland – the City one side, and beyond… Scotland ‘proper’. I’ve been this way times before on the way to Islay, and the nearby Erskine bridge is what divides the beautiful countryside from the more familiar surroundings of bricks and mortar.
Anyway, a traditional white distillery, but no coastal position as say Lagavulin or Bowmore.
Once inside, it’s clear to see that the Morrison Bowmore Distillers money has helped: it’s very clean and structured – but no less inviting. Bottles are neatly displayed in the shop with individual spotlights for each, and the range of Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glengarioch is proudly displaid.
After an interesting education on distilleries and distillation in Scotland (with a very expensive looking map!), we were faced with quite a large mash tun. The process is familiar now, but what impressed me was the enthusiasm and knowledge of our guide (pitched perfectly to the audience whose knowledge went from nothing to ‘medium’). To accompany us in the mash room, we has an Auchentoshan starter – a 12 year old. Light honey colour, Auchentoshan nuttyness on the nose, smooth and sweet on the palate.
If i thought the mash room was tidy and organised, then the washback room was no different either. 4 oregon pine washes, each must be 5 meters in height. Although i see the practicalities of stainless steel – it was great to see these and i love the commitment to traditional methods. They they don’t have their own malting floor (and who really does these days?) – but this was soon forgotten.
Accompanying dram: Auchentoshan 21 year old. Much stronger red-ish colour, bigger on the palate with fruit and barley and honey, and a more lasting, satisfying finish than the 12. Lovely.
Next up, the still room, with the now distinctive 3 stills. yes, if you didn’t know, Auchentoshan triple distill. That’s their thing.! So they say, and who am i to question, they are the only triple distillers, and according to their website, makes the whisky “the most delicate tasting single malt scotch whisky“. So there you go.
Anyway, again, an extremely clean and organised room. Still 3 (the spirit still) was like a cauldron (not that we could get too close) – but you could see they were busy.
No dram here, but we did the usual taste of the new make and all that.
Next up, and strangely with a camera ban, the warehousing. Great looking warehouse inside, with the displays and descriptions handled nicely by their marketing people. It was great to see the different barrels here – hogshead etc – side by side. Real thought has been put to the visitor experience, but i never felt it was condescending.
We returned to the dramming room, to finish off the standard tour element with Auchenthoshan Three Wood. So far, my favorite of the range. I started off drinking single malts with Bowmore and Ardbeg, so i appreciate a much stronger taste, and Three Wood is a fantastic whisky: strong bronze in colour, and christmas cake taste – fruit, nut and syrup but importantly for me, another long finish. Not harsh by any means – but i like to know ive drank whisky – the smell and finish are as much the experience for me.
But still, we’re not done. This was kind of business exploration, and I was a guest of Auchentoshan, so was lucky for another taste. Being part of the same family, I was offered Bowmore or Glengarioch. Well, Glengarioch it was, and this is not a whisky for the faint hearted. “Just” a standard 12yo, bottled (i think) at cask strength, this stuff knocks your socks of, but it’s beguiling. Despite the strength – it’s almost delicate too; heathery and floral notes on the nose, and quite sweet on the palate.
So, we were done. But not quite. Just before we left, we returned to the warehouse and the “bottle your own” experience – taking the spirit from a cask using the big steel ‘pipette’ (?). This was great fun, but the whisky itself?? Absolute winner – a first fill cask and this was at cask strength. This was bottled and labelled in front of me, and something i brought back. It had everyhting i liked about all the other whiskies before – but being cask strength, AND first fill – the difference was quite amazing: the taste was more porinounced but not overbearing, the smell so inviting and the finish – well, i think it’s still going. Worth the additional cost..
Auchentoshan Distillery, By Dalmuir, Clydebank, Glasgow G81 4SJ
Worth trying? Yes. Three Wood in particular.
Purchase made? Yes. First fill distillery cask. Cask strength.
Worth visiting. Absolutely.
Staff: Excellent. Knowledgable, friendly. Full marks.
Host: Thanks Joe!
Recommended: Without a doubt.
Shameless plug: www.auchentoshan.com/