Some people have become obsessed with the notion that things have to be complex or challenging to be good. In Scotch’s case, it’s popular to pursue big peat monsters, or the cask-strength heavily spiced expressions. Yet, Sometimes, when you return to the root of something it can often be refreshing, and that’s what I experienced when I tried the Auchentoshan 12 Year Old. It’s not overly complex, flavour dense, alcoholic or all that interesting. What it is, however, is a most pleasant sipping whisky, one appreciable by the uninitiated and Scotch aficionados alike.

I’ve reviewed other entry level scotches like Aberlour 10 and Glenmorangie the Original. But for me, Auchentoshan 12 represents a higher echelon of accessibility — it’s honestly like scotch stripped down to its basic essences. Compare it to Guinness. While certainly not the most complex stout, Guinness almost seems like the stout from which all stouts stem.  Auchentoshan acts the same way. And it’s not just me that thinks this, as it’s colloquially know as “the breakfast whisky” due to its sweet and subtle flavour.

Auchentoshan 12 doesn’t look particularly soft. It’s got a robust, rich caramel colour which is a few shades darker than you’d see on its peers and even darker than other Auchentoshan’s I’ve tried. On the nose it has a delicate graininess that really does remind me of a warm bowl of oatmeal (with a sprinkling of brown sugar.) There is almost no real alcohol fume presence, which allows you to more easily pull out the soft scents of fruit like clementine oranges and cantaloupe.

The taste is as I above described — simple, sweet, grainy and pleasant.  Auchentoshan is the only distillery which triple distills its scotch in order to make it as smooth and delicate as possible, which I believe they they succeeded at. Soft honey, lager beer and the oranges that were hinted on the nose are all present, but none attempt to stand out. This is a scotch you can really recline with, letting the troubles of the world melt away. The finish is quite sweet and lingering, and reminds you that you were, in fact, drinking a scotch all along.

I truly enjoy Auchentoshan 12. While it doesn’t mean I intend on retiring my smoky Islays any time soon, it’s a scotch I find myself recommending again and again to beginners just starting their scotch journey. It’s soft, sweet and subtle — suitable for some slow sipping.