Whisky Review: The Singleton of Auchroisk 1976 Vintage
Category: Speyside single malt Scotch whisky
Origin: Auchroisk Distillery
Bottling: International Distillers & Vintners., Official
Cost: ~£199 at auction
What they say:
The Singleton single malt whisky
The Distillery at Auchroisk lies in a valley on the banks of the River Spey, near the village of Mulben. The translation of Auchroisk from the ancient gaelic is ‘the ford across the red stream’.
The Singleton is Auchroisk’s pride and joy, an unblended single malt whisky of unique character. Its exceptional mellowness is derived from the pure soft water of the well at Glen Dorie, which lies on the estate at Auchroisk. The Singleton’s smooth taste and deep rich colour is enhanced by the gentle ageing in sherry casks from Spain.
What I say:
Constructed in 1974 the first official release from Auchroisk distillery was a 1975 vintage released in ~1986(7?) making it around 12 years old. This bottling is from 1976 season production so casks were filled in 1976, aged for ~ 12 Years and this bottled released in 1988. Auchroisk was built by International Distillers & Vintners (IDV) and Justerini and Brooks but was later amalgamated into Diageo. The gaelic Auchroisk (pronounced oth-rusk) was deemed a little difficult so ‘The Singleton’ brand was born here and continued until ~ 1999-2001 when UDV/Diageo’s 10yo Flora and Fauna bottling superceded this. In 1997 Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan to create Diageo. In 1998 IDV was merged with United Distillers to create United Distillers & Vintners, forming the spirits division of Diageo plc. The Singleton was switched to 3 other distilleries output where it now resides on the bottles of Dufftown, Glen Ord and Glendullan.
The interesting thing about vintages is they must be constructed from casks that were all filled in the same calendar year, thus as they are emptied at the same time there is 12 months or less difference in total age so effectively all of the whisky is of approximately the same maturation age. A great example of this (Until recently!) is the output from Knockando, who for years have produced official bottlings with not only an age statement but also a year vintage declared upon them. The main difference between age-statements and vintages is that age-statements indicate only the youngest whisky that goes into the bottle, therefore during the marrying of the casks to make that batch, much older whisky may be used to adjust the flavour profile etc. With vintages this is strictly forbidden as older whisky would have to have been made in a different year which in wine (and whisky) terms represents a different growing or production season and may therefore introduce different characteristics from the vintage season.
The Regulations state:
(2) A person must not label, package, sell, advertise or promote any Scotch Whisky in a way that includes a reference relating to when it was distilled unless—
(a) the reference relates to a single calendar year;
(b) all of the whisky in the drink was distilled in that year;
(c) the presentation of the whisky also includes a reference to—
(i) the year of bottling of the whisky;
(ii) the maturation period of the whisky; or
(iii) the age of the whisky; and
(d) the reference to the year of bottling, the maturation period, or age of the whisky appears in the same field of vision as the reference to the year of distillation.
The recent victim of these regulations were Kilchoman who released a 9 year old 2009 vintage with the marketing:
Though the casks selected for the 2009 Vintage were mostly distilled in 2009, a number of 2008 casks were also selected to add further layers of maturation. The specific casks, chosen by Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder, are mostly a combination of fresh and refill bourbon barrels though Anthony also selected three 2008 Oloroso sherry butts to add additional layers of rich cooked fruits to balance with the lighter citrus and vanilla of the bourbon barrels.
Kilchoman Distillery – Press Release
Err.. tut tut! Kilchoman this is clearly not a vintage as it has casks from 2 different calendar years of production within it! The 9 year age statement is still fine though as the younger casks are 9 years old and the older casks are acceptable. I have no idea what the repercussions (if any!) of this were and recall no SWA statement. However it may just be coincidence but Knockando’s yearly 12 year old expression arrived without the statement ‘Season’ and year of production upon it! It seems rather peculiar that a fuss is generated around adherence to vintages and Knockando rather than produce the next in their season series (2005 – 12 year old bottled 2017) release a non-vintage 12 year old… So it appears that their Season series ended with the 2004 vintage bottling released in 2016? In 2005 Knockando was added to Diageo’s Classic Malts range, though if this had any impact upon stock from that year I cannot tell?
Many thanks to Tom of Tom’s Whisky Reviews for sharing a sample of this historic malt with us.
Dark copper bronze (13/20), medium tears with fine legs
Coffee and chocolate, malty cereal barley, chocolate creams or liqueurs, sweet, rum & raisin fudge or ice cream, treacle toffee, molasses, slightly herbal
Light and smooth with creamy toffee, milky coffee, milk chocolate, treacle toffee, molasses, oaky wood, nutty walnut, fruit & nut chocolate bars, oak wood tannins & light cinnamon spice, a wisp of smoke.
Long, mocha coffee and hazelnut syrup
Light bodied at 40% and smooth but with an entertaining toffee/coffee/chocolate flavour profile going on and a good taste of malty barley, some oak aging too, this seemed akin to many a good blend and I wonder if this expression was constructed in such a way as to appeal to the more common blend drinkers that would have dominated the consumer market
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