What a year it’s been for Glenallachie distillery after being plucked from relative obscurity by the Glenallachie consortium for an undisclosed fee.
Reborn as the GlenAllachie complete with Flintstone style branding, this Speyside producer now has a single malt presence and a new direction. The only way is seemingly upwards after decades spent supplying its former master’s blends with only a handful of official releases. Now GlenAllachie has a core range of a 12, 18 and 25 year old at retail and various timed special editions.
Billy Walker and his team have the enviable task of assessing a large inventory of casks that came as part of the deal itself. You may have been fortunate to have gotten your hands on the single cask set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the distillery? Fears from some retailers as to the asking prices of these whiskies and their reduced 50cl bottlings were unfounded as demand outstripped supply. Regardless if the whisky itself wasn’t met with universal praise, we’re in an era of the investor and flipper. The game is all about commodity ownership as opposed to the quality of the liquid.
Even so there is a great deal of good will in the marketplace towards Billy Walker and his team for what they achieved with BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh. Pulling off the same trick again will be difficult but in reality GlenAllachie is a different beast. Arguably the distillery is a blank template with very little prior baggage, or image to contend with.
A more modern construct than the aforementioned trio, 16 warehouses on site offering plenty of room and in theory a greater annual capacity then GlenDronach and Glenassaugh combined. Put it all together and there is a great deal of intrigue and interest in what will come out of GlenAllachie not in the near future, but further down the line. Much like say Teeling that has floated its brand based on non-Teeling stock until the time is right. GlenAllachie can at least call upon its maturing inventory to supplement its brand. When the post-2017 distillation reaches fruition, then we’ll see the real GlenAllachie rather than the faithful Pernod Ricard incumbent.
Already GlenAllachie has added talent from the nearby Ballindalloch distillery who have a more hands on approach. Distilling un-peated and heavily peated 80ppm new spirit is already a marked departure from what went before. Filling casks at 3 different strengths (63.5%, 68%, 72%) is a welcome twist. Then there’s the subject of fermentation. Previously, funnily enough, Ballindalloch was the longest exponent on Speyside reaching 140 hours making it 2nd only to those geeks at Dornoch distillery who can prolong fermentation for a fortnight. It’s exciting and interesting. GlenAllachie now ferments to an impressive 160 hours, which takes it over the 150 mark, when potentially an onion like aspect can arise if not well managed.
In-between now and then, we’ll have more GlenAllachie special releases and the whole journey kicked off with this 12 year old Spirit of Speyside Festival edition. Bottled at 58.9% ABV, this was originally distilled in 2006 before residing in a sherry butt #897, resulting in an outturn of 1020 bottles thanks to the reduced 50cl size. These were hand signed by Billy himself and sold during the festival for £60 before selling out and hitting the secondary market.
Thanks to Noortje for the sample and picking up a bottle for me during the festival. Yes, this is long overdue and she joins me for a double review.
GlenAllachie Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – Jason’s review
On the Nose: A pleasant arrival of apples, fresh pancakes and ginger. A gentle stroke from the sherry cask. Plenty of Speyside character with honey, caramel and plenty of oils. Vanilla fudge, almonds and freshly squeezed lemon.
In the mouth: More of those apples, ginger and honeycomb. Sugary, and quite drinkable at cask strength. Liquorice root, elements of wax and more butter characteristics and a peppery finish.
Jason’s Score: 6/10
GlenAllachie Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – Noortje’s review
On the Nose: A bit nutty at first, macadamia nuts to be precise, which makes it a bit creamy. Quite some lemon, which is followed by green bananas. Vanilla and some fresh grassy tones too. A bit buttery, butterscotch and caramel. With water: Sweeter. More vanilla and some cookie dough. Caramel fudge or toffee.
In the mouth: Cookie dough, butterscotch. Vanilla and caramel fudge. Later some lemon and bananas too. Followed by black pepper. When I add some water the pepper disappears to the background, but all the other flavours remain as they are. Which is good. The finish is mid-long. Black pepper. Buttery. Toffee and caramel. Lemon. With water: less peppery.
Noortje’s Score: 7/10
Not fully formed by any means, but quite pleasant and engaging. A gentle Speyside whisky making it’s own way as a single malt. Noortje felt that it is a lovely dram, lovely flavours, but don’t expect a lot of depth. It just tastes very well. I can live with that.
Overall, nothing to dislike here or become terribly excited about, just yet. Patience is always key in whisky and a rare commodity indeed.