Auchentoshan Heartwood

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Score: 94/100

ABV: 43%

Origin: Lowlands, Scotland

Match with: Goats cheese, Buffalo mozzarella, mild cigar

Auchentoshan is a distillery located in close proximity to Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. The distillery’s claim to fame is its practice of distilling its whisky three times, which, while the norm in Ireland, is unusual in Scotland where most whisky is distilled only two times. Auchentonshan therefore take a page from their Irish cousins and produce a whisky with more concentrated and cleaner ethanol which matures into a light and fruity whisky often described as a “breakfast dram” due its smoothness.

Auchantoshan Heartwood is triple distilled whisky that has been matured in bourbon casks and Oloroso sherry casks, and then bottled for Travel Retail in large 1 litre bottles at 43% alcohol volume.

The nose presents with nutty overtones of almond, walnut and unsalted pistachio that combine with herbal mint/menthol cough drops and the drying woody aroma of Oloroso, cherries, chocolate, dried fruit and fresh herbs sitting on a newly made wooden table. On the palate the whisky is balanced and very smooth, immediately releasing drying Oloroso sherry with an almond and cashew nuttiness, pistachio shells, dark dried fruits such as raisin and prune, soft licorice, honey, dark chocolate and the flicker of picante spice with cinnamon sugar that fades at mid-palate into a herbal glow of mild eucalyptus and mint hot chocolate. The finish curiously sweetens as undertones of Oloroso remain dry, offering cherries, alcohol soaked raisins, creamy vanilla, dusted cocoa and dry wood.

Overall, Auchentoshan Heartwood is a smooth and light whisky that offers a fusion of dark dried fruit, dry Oloroso with powerful wood notes, nuttiness and a herbal glow. With booming Oloroso sherry notes and a constant nutty hymn, this whisky is delectable with a block of creamy goats cheese or some buffalo mozzarella – absolutely perfect while star gazing, watching a movie or puffing on a mild cigar. Talk about la bella vita!

St Magdalene 1982 26 Year Old

Spirit Name:
Rating:
St Magdalene 1982 26 Year Old
★★★★★
Score:
86/100
ABV:
46%
Region:
Lowlands
Body:
Medium
Intensity:
Medium
Texture:
Medium
Balance:
Excellent, but with an unfortunate bitter spell at the end
Best served:
Neat
Theme(s):
Lush grassy notes meet sweet pineapple and cherries as the oak kicks in to add a dry bitterness that ends with a surge of dry grass

Tasting notes:
Continuing on my “the week I turned 30” series, today I taste another endangered species: St Magdalene. Whisky from St Magdalene is particularly special because – much like Brora and Port Ellen – it was closed in 1983. So, as supply stops and consumption continues whisky from St Magdalene will continue getting rarer and rarer. I had the opportunity to taste this St Magdalene at Whisky & Alement in Melbourne, a fantastic whisky bar (especially on a not so busy weeknight) with friendly and knowledgeable staff and a welcoming ambiance.
Nose: A mild and lush “peat” lifts from the glass, which is difficult to describe but almost grassy with some dew and dampness. There is a sweetness on the nose that merges tartness and sugariness like a tin of pineapple mixed with glazed cherries. The sweetness and fruitiness develops into lemon glazed cake which counteracts the grassy and bitter oak notes.
Taste: The lush grass meets the palate with a smack of sweetness that then recedes into a radiating glow of over the top bitterness as the tinned pinapple develops into under-ripe green pineapple with the foundation of bitter oak buzzing strongly.
Finish: That lush green and fruit lingers and gently warms the palate, as the finish offers notes of flat cola with bitter lemon and the over influence of oak. The lush grass becomes very dry.  
With water: A dash of water really opens up this whisky and lightens it on the nose. The fragrance of Terry’s chocolate orange develops with some notes of ash tray and honeycomb crunchie! On the palate it remains grassy, but with a helping of vanilla that moderates the oak a little. It releases sharper and sweeter citrus notes with what I identify as lamington. The finish is also gentler, but a dull bitterness develops that destabilizes the whole ride.  
Likes:
Soft grassy notes are something different, especially as this is a Lowland whisky
Dislikes:
Oak laden bitterness on the finish
Price:
N/A

McClelland’s Single Malt Whisky

The McClelland’s single malt whisky range offers expressions from the main whisky regions of Scotland: Speyside, Islay, the Lowlands and the Highlands.  They have very attractive price tags for single malts, selling at Dan Murphy’s for $47.90 (very cheap for the Australian market). So, do I think you get what you pay for or are there any hidden gems in this range? Let’s find out!
Name:
Rating:
McClelland’s Highland Single Malt
★★★☆
Score:
72/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Highland, Scotland
Body:
Light
Intensity:
Light, lifeless
Texture:
Watery
Balance:
OK
Best served:
Neat, mixed
Theme(s):
The burn of the underlying alcohol is too much for this sweet little whisky
Tasting notes:
Nose: Unfortunately, the first whiff of this whisky was unpleasant. It releases a mild stench of immaturity hidden away in a sweet cloak of honeyed fruit. There is not much leaping out of the glass, and instead the sweetness remains stagnant while the undertones of soot and exhaust fumes spoil the show in my opinion.
Taste: Not bad but far from good, this whisky is uninteresting on the palate and offers a dull almost lifeless wave of candied dried apricot with the interruption of ethanol and doughy new spirit. Harsh and with a slight burn, I am not tempted for another dram.
Finish: The bitterness lingers, as a dry wood lingers with the burning alcoholic embers.
Spirit Type:
Rating:
McClelland’s Speyside Single Malt
★★★☆
Score:
70/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Speyside, Scotland
Body:
Light
Intensity:
Light, lifeless
Texture:
Watery
Balance:
OK
Best served:
Neat, mixed
Theme(s):
A boring young Speysider much to flat for his/her age
Tasting notes:
Nose: The immaturity is less pronounced than in the Highland, but it whispers softly in the gusts of floral notes and freshly slices orchard fruits; apple, pear and peach. Some mild vanilla  and red jelly bean shines with crushed walnut and stale wholemeal bread within the fumes of nail polish remover.
Taste: While I prefer the nose on the Speyside, I prefer the taste of the Highland. The Speyside is almost more lifeless and unenergetic as the Highland, and offers very little spark or energy. Instead it releases a wave of tart berries drenched with alcohol, but as the bitterness recedes a dry wood develops into a dry smoky finish that draws in a sweet fruitiness that shines for a moment but then vanishes!
Finish: Better than the Highland, a dry smokiness remains on the tongue as ethanol evaporates off the base of the tongue.
Spirit Type:
Rating:
McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt
★★★ 
Score:
68/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Lowlands, Scotland
Body:
Light
Intensity:
Light, lifeless
Texture:
Medium
Balance:
OK
Best served:
Mixed
Theme(s):
The most boring sibling of the family, get ready for some dozing!
Tasting notes:
Nose: While the Highland and the Speyside has shimmers of sweetness, the Lowland is overrun by the smell of fumes: petrol, nail polish remover and an under-cooked whole-meal loaf. Some mild fruity sugars develop but it is hard to identify anything distinct coming out of this whisky.
Taste: Far too diluted, this whisky has some buzz that quickly dies. It offers some mild notes of sour green grape with some alcoholic dryness.
Finish: The finish is surprising, because it lasts a while.
Name:
Rating:
McClelland’s Islay Single Malt
★★★★☆
Score:
82/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Islay, Scotland
Body:
Medium
Intensity:
Medium
Texture:
Light-medium
Balance:
Good
Best served:
Neat
Theme(s):
A lake faring Islay lad with some moderate peat and a fizzling finish
Tasting notes:
Nose: There is sometimes something quite spectacular about young whisky, and I find this is sometimes the case with young Islay expressions. It is, I think, the way the peat interacts with (or cloaks) the immaturity. This smells like young whisky, but without the unpleasant new spirit notes that dominate the Lowland and Highland McClelland’s expressions. The peat is soft but radiates with the aroma of cut grass and a football field on a hot summer day; the clumps of clay merge with the yellow grass and energy in the atmosphere. There are some sweet notes too, with a cough syrup like aroma with notes of peppermint and a mild fizz.
Taste: In my view, this is the best McClelland’s of the range. It offers a moderate glow of peat that is washed away by a wave of syrupy sweetness leaving only the peat embers burning gently as the sweetness evaporates with notes of vegetal laden lake water (far too mild for sea water). The sweetness is difficulty to describe, but sugary.
Finish: The finish on this whisky offers some peat infused sweetness, but then fizzles without warning.

Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

★★

The Sleepy Little Whisky 

Like a cola shaken much too hard, this whisky was missing the sparkle commonly associated with single malt whisky.This is a tale about a sleepy little whisky, who, in my view, could simply not keep up with the big boys.

Nose

I am greeted with floral tones and citrus fruit like grapefruit that are subtly released rather than striking the nose with an immediate thump. Unable to peel away any layers with this whisky, I am left slightly unimpressed with the nose on this whisky.

Colour

A beautiful light orange.

Taste

Smooth and light citrus fruit and bitter orange slowly develop while a short lived fruity sweetness wrestles with lemon myrtle and mandarin peel to bring elements of bitterness towards the end. Not bad.

Finish 

Unimpressive. The warmth and flavor fizzles away like a cheap firework.

Overall

An enjoyable whisky that is light, floral and fruity with sweet and bitter. On this occasion the scent did not immediately strike my nose and I was left searching without much success at peeling away layers which may or may not exist. On the tongue the experience is much the same. No real oomph could be detected in this whisky, and the flavor dawdled in slowly like a young lad coming home from an unsuccessful first date! Not for me, as I enjoy robust and energetic whisky that punches the palate and the nose in its own unique way.


★★