The lowland distillery Auchentoshan [http://www.auchentoshan.com/] is situated to the west of Glasgow at the foot of the Erskine Bridge. It is an easy place to find though you may go past it a few times before finding the actual entrance depending upon which direction you approach it from! The distillery itself is very pretty – there was even a Grey Heron fishing in the ornamental pool and fountain as we drove into the distillery. Sadly the weather was typical damp and dreary Glasgow weather – on the bright side this for me makes Glasgow feel much more like my home town of Manchester – no stranger to the humble raindrop itself.
The tour itself gives the usual background to single malt whisky, focussing on the three main ingredients; Water, Barley and Yeast. The malted barley is again provided from industrial off-site maltings and then milled in the Porteus grain mill upon delivery. As usual the maltose sugar is extracted by heated water, for Auchentoshan this starts at 63.5 °C. The water is obtained [like most tap water in Glasgow] via pipeline from Loch Katrine in the Trossachs.
During our tour we were invited to sample the crude whisky beer which was dipped out using a cup on a chain. Although it smells like good Weiss beer and baking bread, the flavours are quite bitter and yeasty, not particularly pleasant and nothing like the smell.
The still-house and spirit safe
Auchentoshan have a unique approach to making scotch, by triple distilling their spirit – a process more commonly employed in making Irish whiskey. So here you can see the three stills, all very different in size and shape for their unique scotch triple distillation process. http://www.auchentoshan.com/triple-distillation-(our-way)/triple-distillation.aspx
The first two distillations are similar to most double-distilling occurring in almost all other Scottish distilleries. The final distillation however takes the spirit to around 81% ABV, making this one of the purest distillates in Scotland. From here it is still watered down to around 63% ABV for internment into the traditional oak casks.
The tour leads through the extensive on-site warehouses to see the slumbering casks and sample the angel’s share before returning to their tasting room. After a guided sampling of some of the Auchentoshan core range of expressions we returned finally back into the shop/visitor reception via a corridor displaying some of the filtration and bottling operations.
Auchentoshan tumblers and beautifully designed water jug
After the tour I had to opt between the Auchentoshan Valinch and this beauty matured in Bordeaux casks, after tasting both the winner was obvious…
Finally many thanks to our tour guide for the day, Paula and all the staff at Auchentoshan who made us feel most welcome. Also on the way home we stopped off at the Erskine garden centre on the south side of the bridge for a bite to eat and to purchase some plants for our garden. In the process we were also helping their work supporting Scotland’s ex-servicemen and women. http://www.erskine.org.uk/erskine-garden-centre