As I start this review, it’s actually Billy Walker’s 75th, so we’ll wish him a happy birthday and a reminder that life does go on despite our current lockdown situation.
His current project is, of course, Glenallachie and talk about a transformation! From a distillery that we rarely saw anything from, we now have a fleet of releases on a regular basis. These cover all sorts of ages, cask types and presentations: all from the Valley of the Rocks. Already, the 10-year-old cask strength is onto batch 3 of its lifespan with more to come.
I’ve yet to be swayed by anything I’ve had under the new regime. I’m in for the long haul, as I anticipate this distillery will be worth watching once they start bottling whisky that they’ve distilled themselves. A new team and emphasis should mean that Glenallachie will be experiencing a further transformation in the near future.
However, I’m not going to talk about Glenallachie today, instead, I wanted to focus on that word lockdown and the strange new behaviours we’ve started seeing from distilleries and brand ambassadors. Normally, these institutions and individuals are the most technically illiterate of examples: of course, there are always exceptions. Twitter has only just been mastered, even though most of us no longer live on that platform apart from a few diehards. Mention Zoom, Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram and their ilk and you will receive questions. Talk about the features and being able to reach new potential customers, as well as an existing market and a petrified look will descend across their white-washed exterior.
The lockdown has changed all of this. We’re now seeing distilleries hosting tastings, sending out packs and offering enthusiasts the ability to interact from the comfort of their home with those that actually make the whisky. In rapid fashion, it must be said. Brand ambassadors confined to barracks: their most unnatural of habitats i.e. home, now have to catch-up with these social tools and broadcasting the message. It’s all made for fascinating viewing and the sudden explosion across social media has felt long, long overdue.
Dare I even suggest such a thing, but don’t you think distilleries, marketing and whoever makes such decisions, will be looking on and asking why didn’t we do this earlier? Why send out legions of ambassadors based across the world to pour whisky and regale tales of Scotland when arguably it is just as effective via tasting packs and the new social media age? Actually, interacting at the distillery with those responsible is far more effective online – or is it? We’ll have to wait and see on that point, but it is certainly cheaper. No procession of travel bills, hotel receipts and expenses. A much simpler and cleaner way to reach out may have been unearthed by the limitations of a lockdown. This stasis we find ourselves in as a society is giving birth to new behaviours and opportunities.
It doesn’t stop there as some distilleries have come together to launch a lockdown festival devoid of portaloos and inedible food. Instead, a series of Q&A sessions will be streamed live this Saturday, right here.
So, this is exciting, as it promises to deliver a new format and is hosted by someone who isn’t in the industry (yet) and retains a fair degree of belief and trust from his community. Of course, I’m meaning Roy aka AqvaVitae who will have a difficult job hosting all of this over a period of 3 hours. And while it’ll be fun and informative, I hope we can retain a sense of perspective in that not all whisky is agreeable and affordable. There should be thought-provoking questions alongside the ones we know distilleries like to give us, each and every time. Their message. Except, this is a new format and we need it to be more than a QVC broadcast, or a YouTube love fest. Only then, can we be fully informed and make our purchases on a sound basis.
At least I hope Roy’s links are better than mine, seeing how Glenallachie is involved in the event. Yes, tenuous at best, but what did you expect?
Batch 3 is bottled at 58.2% strength, is naturally coloured and is non chill filtered. You can purchase this release via The Whisky Exchange for a reasonable £54.95, while Master of Malt has sold out.
Glenallachie 10 Year Old Cask Strength Batch 3 – review
On the nose: butterscotch, orange peel, cherrywood, wafers and some harsh wood notes. Rhubarb and cranberries. Adding water unlocks more red fruits and lemon peel.
In the mouth: oily, lots of alcohol, nutty, polyfiller and a thick texture. There’s chocolate and varnish also. Water tones things down and removes the edge. Leaving orange, apricots and lemon to prosper.
The whisky is pretty non-descript in all honesty. Lockdown or not. I suppose you could spend some time with it, but it won’t really deliver much or take you on a journey. And that’s a real shame because the natural presentation and price are admirable.
I’d have liked more information on the cask make up utilised here. It does feel wood aggressive to some degree. Even referring to the Glenallachie website doesn’t shed any light on the makeup. Hunting through their news feed does confirm a background of first and second-fill Bourbon, PX puncheon, Oloroso hogsheads and virgin oak casks, which certainly comes through on the experience itself. It feels a little too forced and aggressively finished. Let’s hope the festival is more Glastonbury than your local village fair.
There are commission links within this article but as you can see, they don’t affect our judgement and thanks to the Whisky Exchange for the image.