The inaugural Glenallachie distillery range landed last year, and it was pretty decent in my opinion! Now they’ve followed it up with three more whiskies: the new Wood Finish Series.
It’s hardly a surprise, given that the owners (a consortium led by Master Distiller/Blender Billy Walker) have strong form in maturation experimentation from their previous venture at Glenglassaugh, Glendronach and Benriach distilleries. Anyway, each of these new whiskies have had a 15-month period being re-racked in Rye, Port or Sherry Casks before being bottled. Let’s see how these experiments have panned out!
Glenallachie 8yo Koval (Rye) Quarter Cask Finish, 48%, around £55
Colour: Light Hay
Nose: Spirity youthfulness but balanced, with light pineapple, some green apple and underlying Crème Brûlée. The spice cupboard isn’t quite open but there’s a suggestion of anise and cloves…
Palate: Honey and dry heather, bigger on the apples than the nose would suggest. More of a pronounced spice in the form of cinnamon and cloves. There’s a little bit of toffee to bind as well…
Finish: Short and delicate, slight pepperiness is overtaken by a pleasant tinned apricot sweetness.
Overview: I’m really pleased that the rye cask didn’t destroy the quality of the spirit with this. They’ve got the balance as right as they possibly could have in my opinion – it’s by no means a ‘Punch in the Face’ whisky, but a more than passable dram from the ‘Light and Delicate’ menu…
GlenAllachie 10yo Port Wood Finish, 48 %, around £54
Colour: Rose Copper
Nose: Summer berry compote and icing sugar. Slight spiciness from clove (again) and butterscotch.
Palate: Thicker feel than its younger cousin and a lot sweeter. Stewed pears, strawberries, banana and honey dissipate to a very slight, minty cream speckled with orange zest.
Finish: Slightly longer and creamier than the 8-year-old, the orange continues but the lemon cream overtakes and hangs just long enough to leave you wanting more.
Overview: I’m liking their style right now – if I’m being honest, I’ve had some whiskies recently where I’ve thought that maturation has been used to mask poor spirit rather than to enhance good spirit, but this is clearly an example of the latter. Fair play…
GlenAllachie 12yo Pedro Ximénez Finish, 48%, around £59
Colour: Bruised Pine
Nose: Dry woody spices, cinnamon, nutmeg. Clove makes a return with raisins, dates and a hint of cocoa. Eucalyptus and buttercream with a flex of that orange zest from earlier.
Palate: Dark chocolate with cinnamon banana buns, orange peel with soft aniseed spikes. Apples with caramelised dark brown sugar fade into a slight fennel seed brittle (if there is such a thing?! Like Peanut Brittle only with fennel seeds, not peanuts…)
Finish: Medium-long on this one. Threatens peppery dryness but a wave of dark chocolate orange and some welcome tropical fruits linger softly.
Overview: You know what, I’m really chuffed that this is not (or at least appears not to be) cask finishing for the sake of it. I was a tad worried that a 15-month finishing period for all these whiskies was just an arbitrary time period that someone from the accounts department set. They have balance, they have flavour and they all stay true to a recognisable house style.
Yes, they’re not darker than Lucifer’s heart. And no, they won’t blow your head off. But why should they? The new owners are clearly on a learning curve, they could quite easily have launched everything into first fill Sherry and thrown a syrupy oxblood sherry bomb in your direction. But they wouldn’t have learned a thing about the spirit they’re using and how far they can push their maturation policies. So top marks to them I say! You’ve got to walk before you can run!
Happy Days! But as you all should know by now: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BELIEVE ME! GO AND TRY YOURSELF!
See you on the Flipside!