After visiting the Auchentoshan Distillery in April, I walked away with a renewed sense of its capacity to impress and a determination to find a bottle for home that reflected some of the incredible traits of their distillery-only bottle. After some digging on the LCBO’s website, I found that the cask strength Valinch was available in limited quantities and was able to get my hands on it.
This expression was a direct response from Auchentoshan to its fans who were clamouring for a cask strength version of their Classic expression. Matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks and bottled unchillfiltered at 57.5% ABV it packs a powerful, flavourful punch that renders it easily the best Auchentoshan available in Ontario right now. Ultimately, I bought three bottles. Read on to find out why.
Nose: Apricots and cinnamon roar out of the gate followed by soft nutty tones, hay, and a light grassy note. All of this is encircled by a memory of white chocolate, a pinch of nutmeg, and a warm woodiness that is elevated by a splash of water.
Palate: Honey sweetness couples with soft oakey vanilla and a refined nuttiness to provide a wonderful platform. Above this a light tangerine citrus kick emerges alongside cinnamon and a whisp of cloves. Given its strength, a bit of water is recommended to prevent an anaesthetic effect on the taste buds. Water does nothing to diminish the flavours however as it serves to accentuate the vanilla and fruit elements while simultaneously revealing a bit of the hay experienced on the nose.
Finish: Initially sweet and sour, the cinnamon and clove thread continues right through the finish. Curiously, plums appear among the melange of apricots and peaches, with this fruitiness most prevalent on the exhale. Ultimately the finish is long and the flavours are crisp, resulting in a very clean palate after a few minutes.
Overall: This whisky is an outright steal! Priced at just $63.95 at the LCBO and brimming with flavours that fit together with the precision of a jigsaw puzzle, my only lament is its limited edition status. From beginning to end the Valinch exhibits the soul of Auchentoshan in a way that will change the opinion of many of those that have passed it by with thoughts that it was too delicate or muted to be worth their time.