Auchroisk is a fairly new distillery in Speyside terms having only been established in 1974 during the midst of a whisky boom. As such it displays a more modern and stark exterior from a distance that would not appear to be a distillery, featuring a cluster of white buildings including a turret that serves no purpose. Although the design from Westminster Design Associates isn’t in keeping with the romantic image of a distillery, the Auchroisk design did win several awards including one from the Angling Foundation for not impeding the nearby salmon as they swam upriver. It’s water source is of excellent quality and comes from the previously untapped Dorie’s Well that is fairly inaccessible being down a steep gully, which explains why Speyside’s numerous distillers were unable to utilise this particular spring water until the modern age.
It was founded principally to provide malt for the various blends of the IDV group which was then swallowed up by Grand Metropolitan. These changes had taken place prior to its completion and the distillery went quietly about its business thereafter. The name means ford of the red stream and by good fortune the then owners realised that their new distillery was capable of providing more than just a standard blending component. Its whisky had character and deserved better. Auchroisk debuted as a 12-year-old marketed as the Singleton, which is a brand that exists today under the ownership of Diageo, who now possess the distillery. Except now that the Singleton is a hybrid brand that is supported by a clutch of distilleries including Dufftown and Glendullan. The word singleton is an expression used from a bygone age of whisky brokers who would describe the last remaining malt cask in their possession as the singleton. The phrase was created for the distillery as its name Auchroisk is not the most consumer friendly brand to pronounce.
Auchroisk is set towards the eastern side of the Speyside region with only Glentauchers in the nearby vicinity. In 2015 it received a major upgrade taking its projected capacity to an impressive 6 million litres when required. The distillery is not open to the public but we were fortunate to visit it in 2015 as part of the Spirit of Speyside Festival. The main still room is particularly impressive with an upper level featuring 8 stills that are based on the onion shaped shape at Glen Spey distillery, but larger in size. The distillery occupies a large site with numerous warehouses for nearby Diageo distilleries to utilise and its scale almost feels industrial. The main entrance hall hosts the original steam engine from Strathmill distillery as a reminder to its purpose. Today, Auchroisk is a very modern and efficiency distillery with a new automation system and the 8 steel washbacks adding to this modernist feeling.
The principle official bottling that you may find of Auchroisk is another 10-year-old bottled in 2001 as part of the Diageo Flora and Fauna. This has been discontinued but the bottling is widely available due to its large outturn and the lack of a single malt identity for the distillery. It displays a robust malty, spicy and nutty character highlighting why it is so popular with the Johnnie Walker blenders. A Rare Malt bottling shortly followed thereafter and it has featured in the Diageo annual Special Releases programme since its inception. The distillery is also supported by a variety of independent bottlings that highlight its adaptability beyond ex-bourbon casks, with sherry matured whiskies proving especially successful.