Review: Auchentoshan Classic, 12 Years Old, and Three Wood

Review: Auchentoshan Classic, 12 Years Old, and Three Wood

Next to Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain, Auchentoshan is one of my favorite names in the Scotch whisky business.

The company (a lowland distillery) also makes some fine whisky to match its name. We recently got a hand on three of its more widely available expressions. Comments on each follow.

Auchentoshan Classic is the company’s entry-level whisky, a straightforward introduction to the house style, matured exclusively in bourbon casks and bottled with no age statement. On the thin side, this 80-proof whisky offers only modest character on the nose but opens up on the palate, giving off interesting coconut notes tinged with a bit of (not peat) smoke. The finish is on the watery side, not a lot to it, but quite smooth and easygoing. A great starter Scotch. B / $30

Auchentoshan 12 Years Old is slightly darker in color, aged (obviously) for 12 years in oak. Wood is stronger on the nose here, and nuts are big on the palate. Pistachio, almond, walnut — not so much smoky but straight up wood-infused. It’s lightly bitter but with a big sweetness in there too. Quite light in body for a 12-year whisky, it is somewhat less smooth than the Classic but offers more complexity. A good choice depending on your mood. 80 proof. B- / $35 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Auchentoshan Three Wood is not a golf club but a quite dark whisky aged in bourbon barrels then finished in both oloroso and Ximinez sherry casks, but offers no age statement on how long it spends in those barrels. At 86 proof it’s a touch hotter than its little brothers, and more of a challenge than its little siblings, with a big slug of wood right up front. Huge caramel follows the wood, with an herbal, rosemary-like finish. There’s a bit, but less, sherry character here than I’d have thought, which is kind of unfortunate since sherry finishes always intrigue me. Still, an admirable whisky that most Scotch aficionados will enjoy. B+ / $60  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Auchentoshan Three Wood




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. J. Lindsey on September 4, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Oh wow did they change the bottles recently? I picked up a bottle of Three Wood a few months ago and it looks very different from these pictures. I wonder if they changed the formula too?

  2. hrh on September 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Picked up a bottle of the only Auchentoshan my store has ever carried and thought it had been contaminated. Or something! Then I noticed it was “Classic” and lacked any mention of age. Luckily, I had kept the previous bottle of the 10 year old and saw my mistake.

    For only $5 less, one can buy this swill?!?! RIPOFF!

    Have they been taken over by Glenfiddich?

  3. steve on February 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Swill? American beer, yes. Auchentoshan? Hardly. Swill seems to suggest a cynicism on the part of the distiller. The cynical hawking of swill seems to be more of a behavior found with American beer brewers. Certainly not Auchentoshan. It strikes me as somewhat uninformed to take hacks at someone’s sincere efforts at creating art. (Read Teddy Roosevelt’s comments on the critic to gain some perspective.) I am a true lover of Scotch and I find that I really like to live with different ones. A friend of mine enjoys Dewars and who am I to question that. There must be something in it for him and as long as he enjoys it, I am happy for him for his journey has taken him to a place of contentment. To me, the enjoyment of Scotch is like an odyssey where we can travel down a road with a variety of distillers to get their particular take on what is a true art form. It is a personal odyssey though and the best reviews are ones where someone can convey a sense of what we can expect before making our purchase. Snobbery gets us no where. I sense no cynicism with Auchentoshan and depending on the mood, the season, the food or the company, I really like the Auchentoshan Classic. I like a lot of Scotches. Oban 14, Scapa 16, Springbank 15, and Highland Park 15 come to mind. But sometimes I am really in the mood for Auchentoshan Classic. It goes down very easy and sometimes that is a better choice. Variety is the spice of life and Auchentoshan has its own thing to offer and to me, that has enriched my life.

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