We met Heiko this spring while testdriving the new Mercedes Benz E-Class coupe in the gorgeous island of Sylt, a dune-swept resort island in the North Sea that’s long been dubbed “The Hamptons of Germany”. While that’s undoubtedly intended as a compliment, the truth of the matter is the Hamptons don’t touch the kind of wealth that vacations in Sylt. While the Hamptons may be home to American Old Money, that doesn’t hold a flickering Mayflower torch to European Old Money. Now that’s Old Fucking Money. Anyway, we were staying at the five star A-Rosa Hotel as guests of Benz when I was engaged by one of the bartenders in a pleasant conversation about alcohol (this seems to happen to me a lot). When the bartender discovered my poison of choice was scotch, he instantly smiled and led me to another bar, a long darkly lit hall with a young tall German behind the bar cleaning glasses. It was here that I was introduced to Heiko Vannesté, “the most knowledgeable man on whisky in Germany.” While I thought that might be an exaggeration, after I spent two hours with Heiko tasting up to 15 different single malt scotches I realized I’d met a man who loved the brown sugar more than I. So I asked him to start reviewing spirits for Lost In a Supermarket and here we are — with our first review. Stick around, there will be many more where this comes from…
At first something to my person. I’m from Germany with a specialized field in Whisky. After I finished my apprenticeship as a fully trained hotel clerk I started work as a barkeeper in a 5*S Hotel called A-Rosa on the beautiful island of Sylt, Germany. I discovered the passion for whisky a few years ago and since then my life is full of the usige beatha — that’s Gaelic for “water of life”. In February 2012 I was appointed as the 72nd Malt Ambassador of Campari Germany. It is my intention to bring whisky to all of you who want to learn more about that holy water.
For my first review I’ve chosen a Scottish Whisky from the Lowlands. Near Glasgow at the Clyde River you’ll find the only still who triple distills her Whiskys. Her name is the Auchentoshan Still. Auchentoshan means translated from the Gaelic, ‘corner of the field’. Incorporated in 1823, Auchentoshan make very smooth, nearly unpeated and fresh Whiskys. If you’d like to know how to pronounce Auchentoshan, it is thus: ock-un-tosh-un.
So let’s come to the Whisky himself. Now we’ll have a specific look at the Auchentoshan Valinch Limited Edition 2012 in cask strength. The single malt Whisky, based on the Auchentoshan Classic, is a non chill-filtered whisky matured in North American bourbon casks. It has an alcohol strength of 57,2 % Vol.
The first smell when you open the bottle is fresh, smooth and light. As you fill up your glass with this nice one and take a deep first sniff, you’ll find next to the fresh fruitiness a warm and engaging note of sweet desserts. Mostly some crème brûlée with a bright sweetness of vanilla compared with some hints of spiciness. A really full bodied light whisky, even with his maximum strength of alcohol.
The taste starts smooth, sweet, with some hints of bitterness coming from caramelized sugar and turns into an engaging and warming soft field of fruits, still with his wonderful kind of sweet. Even at the first swig you don’t feel the power of the 57,2 % Vol., nearly unbelievable. The longer the golden water stays in the mouth and turns around over and over your tongue, the smoother the Auchentoshan gets.
The aftertaste makes this whisky even more interesting. The time it is swallowed it gets hot and spicy, but not for long. A delightful pear get into and turns away as fast as it get there to make places for the crispy caramelized sugar on the sweet and warming crème brûlée.
Very delightful, a really big one of his kind and one of the bests from the range of Auchentoshan I know so far. Price per bottle: $70.