Scores & tasting notes:
(Singleton of) Auchroisk (Pronounced: othrUjsk)
57°32'56.04 N, 3°6'41.04 W
Strathisla, Strathmill, Glentauchers, Glen Keith
Dorie's Well & Mulben Burn
4 wash & 4 spirit stills
3,800,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Diageo > UDV (since 1974)
Mulben, Banffshire, EB55 6XS, Scotland
No - unless you count the 'Flora & Fauna' range as OB's
Below, on Whiskyfun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
1) Auchroisk's futuristic architecture (well, futuristic for a distillery anyway) has won several awards.
Most other distilleries (with some exceptions like Arran, Allt A Bhainne and Deanston) were built in the 18th or 19th century and it often shows...
2) Auchroisk uses a rather unique system to prevent their washbacks from overflowing.
Instead of large rotating 'spoons' that are present at most other distilleries they use a chemical compound that is automatically released once the foam on the wash reaches a certain level.
3) The old steam machine that decorates the offices of Auchroisk used to operate the Strathmill distillery.
4) Over the past decade, the production capacity of Auchroisk was expanded by almost 25%.
5) Most of the output of the Auchroisk distillery is used for the J&B blended Scotch whisky.
Auchroisk 18yo 1989/2008 (59.4%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry, C#30268, 373 Bts.)
Nose: Heavy fruits. Woody too. My kind of profile, but it has some sharp edges. Growing complexity and depth.
Taste: Big and fruity - and a little rough like the nose. A tad too rough for the upper 80's in my book.
Score: 83 points - but it got an average score of 84 points at the MM Awards 2008.
Auchroisk 26yo 1979/2006 (56,7%, Signatory, Sherry C#25427, 592 Bts.) - submitted to the MM Awards.
Nose: A little weird… Hints of smoke. Something vaguely fruity. Awards fatigue? Opens up with time.
Some more complexity during round 2 when the sherried character seemed more obvious.
Taste: Erm, I seem to have misplaced my notes for the palate, sorry.
Score: 84 points - not quite silver medal material in the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006 in my book...
Auchroisk 30yo 1976/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Cask ref 3075, First fill Bourbon finish, 330 Bts.)
Nose: Light & citrussy. Very citrussy, in fact - almost like a liqueur. Grows more complex over time.
Taste: Oy! Bitter, herbal and unbalanced start. Dusty. Finished? Climbs back a little, but not enough.
Score: 71 points - The palate drags it right from the lower 80's into the lower 70's for me.
Auchroisk 11yo 1993/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid Maverick, matured in Bourbon and Port casks)
It caught my eye when I was at De Still with Robert Karlsson in July 2005 to share a dram.
Nose: Extremely rich and fruity; this Auchroisk wears its finished hearton its sleave.
Sweet and farmy with some lovely organics. Funky, but a highly enjoyable dram.
Taste: Quite rich on the palate as well; hints of coffee and 'speculaas'. Overwhelming.
Unfortunately, it grows quite gritty towards the finish. Not for purists, but a lot of fun.
Score: 80 points - although this one might offend members of the wine brigade.
Auchroisk 28yo 1974/2003 (56.8%, UD Rare Malts)
Nose: Fruity with a spirity prickle. A 'green' malt with camphor and eucalyptus. Not terribly expressive.
Perhaps a whiff of freshly ground Arabica coffee beans. Not my kind of profile but some people like it...
Taste: Hot and alcoholic. Very herbal. Tannic. Eucalyptus. Bitter. Aspirin. It feels pretty harsh. Touch of smoke?
This one has personality, but it seems a-typical for Auchroisk. One of the weaker UDRM's as far as I'm concerned.
Score: 73 points - not really a 'bad' whisky, but I'm just not into the 'herbal' side. Yeah, it's personal...
I even arranged a second sample to check my score, because most maniacs liked it better.
The Auchroisk 11yo 1989/2001 Port Finish (43%, Chieftain's, 70cl, Casks #90191/90192) was distilled in
September 1989, bottled in June 2001 and finished in port casks. No more than 1944 bottles were filled.
Nose: Oooh, that's nice... Lots of fruit and a little peat. Some smoke in there as well.
Sweet, overwhelming aroma. Deep woody notes. They did a great finishing job here!
The complexity grows over time, gaining more peaty notes. That's something I like!
Taste: Sadly, it doesn't match the great nose. Watery fruits. It powers up, though.
Dry, winey center with intruiging fruity episodes. It all ends in a very woody finish.
Score: 81 points - it matches an upper 80's nose with a lower 70's palate.
Overall, it performed quite well - it beats all the OB's I've tried so far.
Auchroisk (Singleton) 10yo (43%, OB, bottled +/- 2000, 100cl)
Nose: Mega-fruity at first. Spicy. Levels out after a minute, becoming more spirity.
Malty with a hint of sherry. Furniture wax. None of the liquorice/aniseed I found in the 1981.
Notable improvement after 10 minutes & some water; more toffee and subtle sweetness.
Taste: Very alcoholic. Quite sharp. Hint of fruit. Little depth; flat. Sour, unbalanced finish.
Score: 75 points - the nose is decent, but the taste isn't. Bad cask(s)? Very average.
Auchroisk (Singleton) 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled circa 2000)
That would mean it's a contemporary bottle to the 10yo I mentioned earlier, but I'm not sure.
Determining when these OB's were bottled is difficult; Older bottlings were released as vintages.
Nose: Pretty much as I expected; Malty and a little fruity - not overly sherried. Just right...
It seems to grow fruitier and fruitier over time. The character is that of a rather young malt.
Taste: The profile on the palate was very similar to that of the nose; sweet, malty and fruity.
This is a solid malt; nothing especially remarkable to find, but a perfect sipping whisky.
Score: 78 points - better than average.
Auchroisk (Singleton) 1981 (43%, OB, 100cl, code 2999, Bottled +/- 1995)
(I'm not completely sure when it was bottled, but my best guess would be in the mid-1990's.)
Nose: Very characteristic aroma with licorice and aniseed. Just enough sherry for my tastes.
Remarkable, it even invoked vague impressions of 'Pernod'. Easy to spot in a blind line-up.
Taste: A slow start, but given time it unfolds beatifully and reaches deep into your throat.
Score: 80 points - A very nice autumn-malt; make sure to buy a bottle if you can find it.
(This was the first expression of Auchroisk I ever tried)
Auchroisk 1975 (40%, OB, 5cl, Bottled 1980's?) - sampled during Feis Ile 2005.
Nose: Started off quite sharp with mint and hints of sherry. Paint thinner. Sweetish. Spicy.
Taste: At first it reminded me of stale beer - not a taste I particulary enjoy, I have to say.
Over time it improves a little - especially after some odd sherry notes joined the party.
Score: 69 points - I couldn't go any higher; this is most definitely 'questionable' stuff.
Please note that it was an old miniature - some oxidation may have taken place here.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Auchroisk Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Auchroisk page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Auchroisk expressions that have been released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Auchroisk is one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland.
It was founded in 1974 and their first single malt whisky was bottled and sold
at a barely legal age in the UK in 1978. That sort of makes it the Arran of it's day,
I guess. Official bottlings have been marketed under the name 'The Singleton'
since 1986, probably because they considered Auchroisk to be too much of a
tongue twister for the average 2nd millennium (non-Scottish) punter.
They apparently expected the average 3d millennium client to be sophisticated
enough to be able to order an Auchroisk without embarrassing himself too much;
they've switched to the name 'Auchroisk' again in the early noughties. Meanwhile,
Diageo now uses the 'singleton' name for three different malts in three different
international markets; Dufftown (Europe), Glendullan (USA) and Glen Ord (Asia).
Isn't Gaelic a wonderfully compact language? According to the label,
'Auchroisk' stands for 'shallow ford across the red stream'. The
distillery was the fourth to be built by the company Justerini & Brooks.
At the time IDV/J&B also owned Glen Spey, Knockando and Strathmill.
They only purchased the property after Dorie's Well was discovered
there. This discovery was made completely by accident, it seems.
Test-distillations with the water from the well
at Glen Spey distillery
were succesfull so they went ahead with construction. Auchroisk was
built for the purpose of producing malt whisky for blending. Even though
the bulk of the malt whisky produced at the distillery is still used for the
J&B blends (over 90% of it, I've been told) Auchroisk was widely
available as a single malt during the 1990's. Its visibility as a brand has
decreased in recent years - perhaps due to the fact that Diageo now
uses the old 'Singleton' name for three different single malts that are
marketed in three different markets; the Glendullan 12yo for the USA,
the Dufftown 12yo for Europe and the Glen Ord 12yo for Asia.
That move may not go down too well in Japan
- apparently, the Singleton
of Auchroisk was very popular there. And why shouldn't it be? I've tried
far worse whiskies in my search for the perfect single malt whisky. In
fact, based on my experiences so far I'd have to say that bottlings of
Auchroisk single malt whisky tend to outclass the product of neighbouring
distilleries like (maybe) Glentauchers and (definitely) Strathmill.
I've noticed one odd thing about the official bottlings, though. 'Drink up quickly' is the motto here. Somehow all the corks
seem to shrink and dry out very quickly after the bottle has been opened - so they often break or crumble.
Needless to say, that doesn't go for the various independent bottlings.
They were produced on different bottling lines.
The phrase 'Singleton' has been used in the distant past to earmark exceptional whiskies from a specific distillery, vintage and cask. The Auchroisks that were bottled under the 'Singleton' name were not single cask bottlings, but in the beginning all of them had a vintage printed on the label. Later expressions with an age statement became available as well; I've had 10yo and 12yo expressions on my shelves in the 1990's.
The 'Singleton' name has since been abandoned completely.
The closest things to a proper official bottling are a 10yo 'Flora & Fauna' bottling and a 28yo whisky from 1974 in the 'Rare Malts' range. Sometimes independent bottlings like the 26yo bottling from Signatory Vintage are released - but those are relatively rare. Based on my experiences so far, most are not really worth the trouble of tracking down a bottle, but even the most modest distillery can have a few magical casks stacked away somewhere.
2001 - After more than a decade, the name Singleton is abandoned in favour of the name 'Auchroisk'.
2009 - It seems Diageo is using the malt whisky from the Auchroisk distillery exclusively in blends these days (or at least primarily); I haven't seen an official bottling of the Auchroisk malt whisky for almost a decade.
Is the distillery or