May 23, 2013

Review: Auchentoshan Three Wood - What Happens When You Buy Your Wife Booze For Your Anniversary?

Hapless Romantic

Lord knows where the official list of traditional anniversary gifts came from, but I've had fun following them.  Well, until this year...

Year 1: Paper - Plane tickets to Turkey for an amazing vacation.  
Year 2: Cotton - Comfy PJs from Lands End.  
Year 3: Leather - Leopard print Doc Marten's boots (huge hit!).
Year 4: Silk - Lingerie.
Year 5: Wood -

Seriously?  Wood?  Like a very romantic... salad spoon?  clogs?  animal carving?  Not exactly wifey's style.  

But I'd taken it this far, so I was determined.  There I was tromping around downtown Manhattan walking into random stores and asking "Do you have anything made of wood?"  I shook my head at a lot of carving boards and lawn gnomes.  I finally found a rather cheap looking bracelet at a boutique in SoHo made of wood beads.  "Well I'd hoped for something nicer, but this will have to do," I thought.  I turned it over to look at the price.  It was eight hundred dollars.  

Defeated, dejected, I got on the subway and headed home.  Well that was the end of that tradition, but at least I could get a nice bottle of champagne and flowers.  I stopped into Beacon Wines (the best liquor store on the Upper West Side) and took a minute to browse the whiskey section before heading to the bubbly.  

There it was!  Winking at me from the Single Malt Scotch shelf, in big beautiful block text:  "AUCHENTOSHAN THREE WOOD".  Not just one wood, but three!  And three classy woods at that: American bourbon oak, Spanish Oloroso Sherry, and Pedro Ximenez casks.  What could possibly be more appropriate for celebrating our five years of marital bliss?  

(Let me just pause here for the caveat that I'm not necessarily recommending hard alcohol as your 'go-to' anniversary gift.  My wifey happens to be my co-blogger and a Grade-A scotch aficionado, so I had a feeling she'd appreciate it.  I was right.)


Auchentoshan, known to us insiders as "Tosh" or "The Tosh" is one of the few remaining lowland distilleries near Glasgow.  Most commonly available are their 18-Year, the Three Wood, and the 12-Year, the 21-Year is more difficult to track down.  Tosh's claim to fame is their triple distillation process, inserting a third "intermediate" still into the process with the goal of producing greater purity in the distillate.  Check out this actually awesome explanation of triple distillation from their site.  It's very informative.  People who love Tosh, LOVE TOSH!  Like this guy.  Cheers Toshan Man, go for yours!  Bottom line: it's sort of a phenomenon, and it's a whisky drinkers whisky - slightly off-the-beaten-path when it comes to the standard bottles you'll find in a bar or liquor store.  Just how we like it.  So how's it taste?

Wifey's Tasting Notes

Nose:  Apples and cinnamon, very rich apple pie desert. And of course the wood.

Body:  Still get a fruity flavor with the taste, but more pear than apple.  Faint hint of smoke.

Finish:  If it’s possible for something to have a light but rich finish, it does.  Light on the tongue, but still the rich notes you get in the nose. 

Gift rating:  Best anniversary gift ever!  (I mean the Dr. Marten's were pretty great, but I can't wear them in the summer, and I can't share them with my hubby!).  Also I'm very glad that I didn't get a wood chair or a garden gnome.  Well actually a garden gnome would have been pretty cool in Manhattan...

Hubby's Tasting Notes

Nose:  Ok this is not a peated scotch, which is why I've never been that curious before.  But the nose is incredible.  What it lacks in smoke, it fully makes up for in wood and leather.  It's an old oak desk with a well-oiled leather ledger.  Letting it sit for a few minutes I'm discovering dark fruits: prunes, raisins, and plums.  Finally there is sweet molasses and faint herbals - fresh thyme.  

Body:  There are few non-peated whiskies that really catch my attention.  This stuff is just so uber-pure and clean, it's staggering.  You can really taste the spirit, it's not hiding, but there's absolutely no burn, and it's wrapped in layer after layer of delicious wood flavor.  The feeling of leather is intense.  There is lemon, not tangy, but sweet like those tins of hard candy grandma used to keep on her coffee table.  And a nice honeyed chamomile to wrap it all together.

Finish:  The finish floats a millimeter off the top of your tongue.  Medium long and extremely pleasant. Maybe my only criticism is that this could have a few more points of alcohol to really kick up the finish.  But it's lovely as it is.  There's a little more citrus, oranges and tangerines exploding on top of the wood.  What a pleasant surprise this bottle is!

The Review

A perfect way to celebrate our first half a decade!  The Three Wood gets a SmokyBeast "A-".  What an excellent gift this bottle is, something new and different that will delight both scotch veterans and newbies alike.  It's very unique and you can just taste the quality that goes into this product.  At under $70, this is a winner.  There are some very negative reviews of this bottle out there.  We'll happily disagree.

Help for Next Year?

Talk about turning failure into triumph.  Thanks Tosh!  Now about next year...

Year 6: Iron - Any suggestions???