The Auchentoshan Virgin Oak noses oak cakes flecked with daisy petals and the good intentions of your mother as she tries to set you up on a blind date. It’s green, so young and unripe that the bottle comes with a binky (not really). Green peppers, ‘cuz that’s how we escarole. A precursor to caramel, but long before the cooking brings out the burnt and the sweet, the agony and the ecstasy, the quick and the dead. Given that it’s virgin oak, it’s surprising that (1) it smells like a guitar that’s been sitting in a closet for three years; and, (2) that there’s no tannin on the nose. Lack-a-tannin, one of 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, where all the ice-fished trout are below average. Not much to like, beyond a changing room talc fluffed into the air.
The burnt caramel precursor of the nose comes through simply burnt on the mouth, along with burnt rabbit cooked en croûte, layered with tarragon and parchment. Apricots and cloves, mixed with prune juice and the childhood dreams of your CPA spinster great aunt.
The finish can’t come quickly enough for me, but it leaves varnish, visible inkstains on your Hermès nautical-themed silk tie, and the communication disruptions and grid disorders following a solar flare.
The Auchentoshan Virgin Oak is Virgil, as in your copy of The Aeneid. Maybe it’s true that he wrote more beautiful Latin than anyone before or since, but you don’t speak Latin, do you?
–Our thanks to Jay Scenti and Morrison Bowmore for the sample.