Until a couple of new distilleries popped up recently in the city centre, Auchentoshan (pronounced ock-en-tosh-an) was Glasgow's distillery. Located on the northwestern edge of the city on the banks of the River Clyde, this Lowland distillery does things differently. Triple distilled spirit and an innovative range of single malts have seen this Scotch brand taken on by younger whisky drinkers and bartenders alike. The name translates from the Gaelic 'Achadh an Oisein' and means 'corner of the field'.
Auchentoshan offers a delicate, light and fresh style of single malt. The spirit shows notes of green apple, fresh-cut grass and lemon zest with vibrant cereal undertones.
This light style of whisky is predominantly matured in American oak ex-bourbon whiskey casks. However, some are also matured in different types of ex-sherry cask and other wine barrels. This spectrum can be seen in the whiskies of the core range, travel retail range and limited editions. Old vintages also appear from time to time.
Auchentoshan differs from most Scottish single malt distilleries in that it practices triple distillation for its entire production. Most follow the traditional double distillation route. Others do triple distillation, but only for short periods each year. Triple distillation is more commonly associated with Irish single malts.
The distillery is equipped with a 6.8 tonne mash tun and this currently operates 15 mashes per week. This feeds one of seven washbacks (four are made of Oregon pine and three of stainless steel). The fermentation can be as little as 50 hours or as long as 120 hours. The triple distillation setup means there are just three stills. The large wash still is for the first distillation and the smaller intermediate and spirit stills for the second and third distillation respectively. The average cut of the final spirit is 81% ABV, which is considerably higher in alcohol than the usual 65% ABV at most locations. The annual capacity is two million litres.
Auchentoshan was founded in 1823 by John Bulloch, an Irish refugee who had relocated to Glasgow. It replaced a distillery named Duntocher that was originally on the site and had operated for numerous years before that. From the beginning, the Irish practice of triple distillation was followed. This has been handed to overtime and continued by every owner since.
The distillery has changed hands a lot, particularly during the 20th century. Significant names include John Maclaclan who took control in 1903. His company eventually sold to the brewers J & R Tennent in 1960, before they sold it to Eadie Cairns in 1969. Cairns was sold to Stanley P. Morrison in 1984 and it later became part of his Morrison Bowmore company. Auchentoshan was bombed and partially destroyed by German air raids during World War II. One warehouse was razed, sending a burning river of whisky into the River Clyde. One huge crater was turned into the distillery pond.
Morrison Bowmore became part of the Japanese company Suntory in 1994 but continued to operate Auchentoshan for them. The current owners are Beam Suntory following the merger of Suntory with the American drinks company Jim Beam in 2014. Under their ownership, Auchentoshan has grown massively as a single malt brand and repositioned itself as an urban malt for experimental drinkers.