More than a few years ago I asked a person of some knowledge, “What would be a good introductory single malt whisky?” I had gotten in my head at the time that I wanted to start drinking scotch. Not just any scotch, but the single malts that were inexplicably appearing on my radar. Until then I had been a beer-wine-vodka-whatever-comes-in-the-a-shot-glass man. As well as a drinker of all things blue for reasons I still don’t pretend to understand. But I had developed a hankering for single malt whisky and I wanted to do it right. I had heard unpleasant stories of people quickly turned off by the spirit. This I attributed to those same persons starting off on the wrong foot. I wanted to start off on the right foot. And not because I’m right-footed. Anyway. In response to my initial query, I was told to start with Auchentoshan. So I went out and bought a bottle. What bottle it was I don’t rightly recall, but that is appropriate since it didn’t really matter to me at the time… it simply needed to be Auchentoshan. I would hazard, if I had to, that it was a 12 Year distillery release. I only recall that it tasted pleasant. And with that I quickly ended up with an empty bottle and my right foot in the door. Which brings us to the 18 Year Rattray at issue.
Perhaps because of my fond but simple memory of Auchentoshan I relegated it to the shelf of good but introductory efforts. Having been consistently floored by all things A.D. Rattray, however, when it was suggested that I partake of Auchentoshan again I had no reservations. I was certain it would be quality, even if simple and simply pleasing. I was delightfully surprised.
Color – Pale straw
Nose – Butter, medicine, sliver of marzipan
Palate – Chewy grain, lightly roasted, melon, jam, slight heat comes through and settles into mid-dark grain notes and eventual sugar/zest/maple
The Auchentoshan of my youth, in the able hands of A.D. Rattray, has transformed into a delicious and subtly complex whisky… that, or my taste buds have come a long way.