Lowlands whisky producer Auchentoshan recently came up with a weird idea: to produce a single malt curated not by its own master blender buy by a group of bartenders (who presumably know nothing about the task).
Auchentoshan’s The Bartender’s Malt is “a bespoke innovation comprised of a blend of whiskies selected by the New Malt Order, a collective of highly skilled, innovative bartenders from around the world who came together to create this product. Developed by bartenders, for bartenders, this is the very first Auchentoshan Single Malt Scotch of its kind.”
What does “for bartenders” mean? It means the whisky is designed for use in cocktails. Why do they need that? Presumably because most whisky is too sweet. The current bartender meta is to restrain sweetness — or, at least, to be able to more carefully control it — so a higher-proof, lower-sugar spirit is definitely in order.
That makes some degree of sense — it’s the same reason why Christian Brothers’ Sacred Bond Bonded Brandy was released last year — but let’s be honest: “Twelve of the world’s most innovative bartenders” have not exactly reinvented the wheel here. If you’re looking for a very dry whisky that will mix without much fuss, allowing your other ingredients to shine, this might be a good fit.
But for starters, let’s taste it on its own just to see how it acquits itself.
The nose is, as expected, dialed back, which allows the malt to shine. Toasted bread, cereal, and smoldering wood embers form the core of a whisky that lets you know, up front, that you’re not going to get a vanilla bomb or a citrus-fueled sherry monster. On the tongue, it’s a little more complex than the nose lets on, though the experience remains quite dry. Here the flavors run toward grassy notes of heather and fresh-cut grains, some lemon peel, and a soothing (but not really sweet) honey character that emerges on the finish. Said finish is drying and short, but perfectly pleasant… something you’d look for to add a little grainy edge to a cocktail but hardly anything that would enlighten you sipping neat on a Saturday night.
Which, I suppose, is by design.
B / $50 / auchentoshan.com