Auchentoshan and Bowmore 12-Year-Olds

Study in contrast.

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Auchentoshan is Glasgow’s only distillery, holding pride of place there, in all its triple-distilled glory, since 1823. It was originally called the Duntocher, so that particular place can also lay claim to the whisky, but the name changed permanently in 1834. The classic, 12-Year-Old expression is a model of smooth single malt whisky. It boasts a slightly herbal quality, but distinctly displays on the palate the Auchentoshan character of nuttiness, and if you wait for a hit, a hint of crème brulee. There are American Oak and Three Wood (American bourbon, Pedro Ximinez sherry, and Oloroso sherry) iterations, as well.

The first distillery on the island of Islay, established in 1779, Bowmore is distinctively of its place. It boasts a brininess due to its proximity to the sea, and the peaty, smoky character that belies almost all the Islay malts. The 12-Year-Old is sterling, the smokiness balanced beautifully with light citrus and honey notes. Other iterations, of which there are many, include a small-batch, American oak offering that provides a bit more body, and certainly some spicy notes. The 15-Year-Old Darkest is aged in sherry and bourbon casks for 12 years, then finished in Oloroso sherry casks. Thus the smokiness and some hints of chocolate and toffee will tickle your palate while you ponder the deep gloaming.

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January 27, 2016