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Monday, November 21, 2016

Single Malt Report: The Singleton of Auchroisk 10 year old 1981 (US release)

The Tale

A decade before Diageo unleased The Singleton Trio of Glen Ord, Glendullan and Dufftown to the world, they had kept things simple with one Singleton, The Singleton of Auchroisk.  This Auchroisk series had actual disclosed vintages—ranging from 1974 to 1985—until those were removed for the final batch bottled in 2000. Many of the Auchroisk Singletons had a listed 10 year age statement but some did not. And at least two versions' age statements were a little quirky, as you'll see in today's and tomorrow's posts. Yes, I have samples of TWO The Singleton of Auchroisks. What a lucky boy am I!

The Bottle

Here's the bottle from today's review:

Okay, now lemme take a look at that label on the bottom:

Distilled in 1981, bottled in 1993.......10 years old? One of four things is happening here:
1. Bad Math
2. Casks were dumped into steel in 1991 or early 1992, thus the whisky had only aged for 10 years.
3. There is some 10 year old whisky in the mix, that was not distilled in 1981
4. The brand wanted to keep the 10 year old age statement on The Singleton range. So they called it 10 years old, which doesn't actually break any rules because the whisky is in fact at least the age stated on the label. If they had said it was a 15 year old, then it would have been a violation of SWA laws.

Riveting stuff. I got my hands on this bottle when someone reached out to the Orange County Scotch Club looking to sell or swap for this bottle. So we took him up on it. And I made it part of our February 2016 event. It had some things going for it. The whisky was matured in ex-sherry casks, it was bottled at 43%abv rather than 40, it's an extinct brand and it had 20+ years of bottle aging (if you believe in that sort of thing). Now to taste it.

The Review

Distillery: Auchroisk
Brand: The Singleton
Ownership: Diageo (Grand Metropolitan, at the time)
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: at least 10 years old (1981-1993, see above)
Maturation: ex-sherry casks
Bottling year: 1993
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chillfiltered: Maybe
Colorant Added: Maybe, but not much

The nose starts off with malt, caramel, fennel seed and nutty Oloroso. Some hints of tar and sulphur in the midground. Moderate notes of mint leaves, tobacco and a funky honey (my nickname). The palate has some peat-like notes, even though Auchroisk's spirit might not be peated. But it's quite organic. There are also plums, apricots and leather. Dry sherry and spicy heat. Floral esters and vanilla. A nice oily texture to it all. The finish is short-ish and slightly drying. Soft fruity sweetness, peach candy and a slight grain note.

This is better than the current three 12yo Singletons. It has a MUCH better mouthfeel and the sherry cask influence is impressive. It's not a super duper secret find—the finish is short and a bit bland, while the nose fades out after 15+ minutes—but it is a good starter whisky and would fit in comfortably with "The Classic Malts". I don't recommend splashing out on a bottle if you see one at auctions or a dusty on the shelf. This Singleton of Auchroisk is a good $30-$40 anytime drink. While it's kind of a bummer Diageo retired this one, I think the current price of sherry casks wouldn't let them turn this out at a starter price. So that was the 1981. We'll try another vintage in the next review.

Availability - Secondary / auction market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83