...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Life of a Whisky Bottle: Auchentoshan 20 year old 1991 AD Rattray

No one will remember this post. But I will never forget this whisky.

I first tried it at an OC Scotch Club event almost six(!) years ago. Its palate was unlike anything I'd tried up to that point in my life. The shock of its vegetal, sandy ugliness startled me into giving it a high rating afterwards. It was a punk whisky. The guitarist didn't even know three chords and the drummer had been snorting NoDoz so the rhythm was shit.

At the end of that post, I wrote: "It's so strange. Kind of haunting actually. I need some closure. I need a whole bottle of this stuff to sort things out."

So I promptly bought a bottle, and it sat in the dark until I opened it 18 months ago. I set aside a sample from the very first pour, mid-bottle and the bottom of the bottle. And now I'll tasted them side-by-side. Will this help me sort things out? Like, things in general. Life, the universe and everything?

Distillery: Auchentoshan
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Lowlands
Bottler: AD Rattray
Age: 20 years (February 20, 1991 - September 15, 2011)
Maturation: Sherry Butt What
Cask#: 484
Outturn: 545 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57.5%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? Absolutely not

This bottle's usage:
I forgot to keep track of the percentages this time, but 0% was for casual drinking.

FIRST POUR, February 2017

Nose - Barley and roses. Burnt (hazel)nuts, rice vinegar, fried plantains, bark and cabbage.
Palate - Hot and burnt. Sand, bark and cabbage. Dirt and rubber. A weird artificial nut note.
Finish - Vinegar, salt, sand, ash and terrifyingly bitter.

DILUTED TO 46%abv:
Nose - Pool and beach. Chlorine and bleach. Ashy and floral (Kristen says: tar and banana). Cucumber skins. New make.
Palate - Very sweet, very bitter, very ashy. Vinegar and weird nut note.
Finish - Ash, salt and palate-ruining sweetness.

MID BOTTLE, November 2017

Nose - Bright young barley note, as if this were 8 years or younger. Vanilla, soil, raw cocoa and mint gum. Roses, ash and rice vinegar.
Palate - Hot and ashy. Intensely grassy. Urine. Soap.
Finish - Dried grass, ash, salt, urine, heat and Nutrasweet.

DILUTED TO 46%abv:
Nose - Bananas, dogs, orange blossoms soaked in white vinegar. Burnt things. Vanilla, cotton candy, sand and urine.
Palate - Burnt and ashy to the point that it feels unsafe. Weird bitterness. Simple syrup and soap.
Finish - Heat, ash, bitterness, soap and Diet Sprite.


Nose - Cabbage or garbage? Loch Lomond, is that you? Rotting stone fruits buried under burnt hair. Peanuts and fruity handsoap. And honeydew, because WTF.
Palate - Hot. Grass, mint, sand and vinegar. Brussels sprouts and Nutrasweet. Hint of ginger powder.
Finish - Burnt bark, burnt Brussels sprouts. Salty and grassy. Burning. Terrifyingly rancid aftertaste.

DILUTED TO 46%abv:
Nose - Loch Lomond's fermenting garbage note. Old cauliflower (aka sewage). But also fruity handsoap. Mint, lemons and vinegar.
Palate - Bitter, hot, salty and tangy. Very veggie. But also very very very sweet.
Finish - Burnt kale, ash, vinegar and Nutrasweet.

Life is too short, and I just shortened it.

I thought this would be a philosophical tasting. It wasn't. The use of this cask was a crime.

There are difficult whiskies that serve as studies of the vast range of matured spirits. Then there are whiskies that are inexcusable cockups. Six years ago, I thought this was the former. It's the latter.

The only thing that kept me from punching in a lower rating was the at times approachable nose. The palate would be tragic were it not so foul. The finish will ruin your face and your evening. I'm embarrassed I ever graded this whisky positively, and I'm pissed off that I suffered through a bottle.

At least I found closure.

Availability - Mercifully, it is now unavailable
Pricing - This should not have cost money
Rating - 56