Friday, 20 January 2012

Grape and Grain... Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask

"We want the finest wines available to humanity.
And we want them here, and we want them now!"

Wine is a curious drink. It can be as grubby as a street urchin or as opulent as Marie-Antonette. It can drown the sorrows of the unthinking majority and it can tickle the cockles of the most inquisitive palate. It is delicious, up itself, austere, cheap, expensive, creamy, acidic, tantalising, charmless and ultimately moreish. There is nothing more relaxing than pulling a cork on a bottle of wine or sipping a Meursault with some intriguingly stinky cheese. What wine fails to offer is a user-friendliness. Wine is about status. If you drink Jacob's Creek a mob of sommeliers will chase you into the church yard and throw bottles at you until you collapse, broken and bruised, begging to be lectured on the delights of Ponet Canet or Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Likewise if you drink the finest vino the world can offer you may be perceived as lacking empathy, having more money than is clinically good for you, and deserving of a good slap around your gout-ridden jowls. All of this is WRONG! Wine should be a pleasure, beyond judgement, it should excite at any level and not require a hedge fund to afford. Of course it is whisky that shows us the way. Whisky is friendly, relatively easy to wrap your head around and has tasty delights from the bottom of the scale up to the top. So tonight I want to review a wine cask finished whisky to encourage wine over to the good side. 

I am a big fan of wine cask finishes. Last year's Springbank 12 year old Claret Wood was excellent and the Dalmore Castle Leod had something to it. I find red wine finishes give a great red fruit character to whiskies without the intensity of sherry or port cask aging, or the varying quality of madeira finishes. Tonight's whisky was released in tandem with the creme brulee delights of the Auchentoshan Valinch. This Auchentoshan like the Valinch is cask-strength but boasts a fantastic Bordeaux cask finish.

Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask
58% - 11 Years Old - 2011 Release
Nose: A freshly opened packet of wine gums arrived first with hints of rose water. Then comes a jammy and nutty quality reminiscent of the new-make spirit, followed with a vinous sherryness.
Palate: Nutty tawny port, tannic with dried fruit flavours.
Finish: Rye bread initially but then a dry charcoal bitterness.
Overall: An incredible whisky. The nose is jam-packed with complimentary aromas, the palate is rich without being cloying and the ABV adds a much needed weight to an Auchentoshan. Simply superb!

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