The GlenAllachie single malt line released this year comes from an independent, Scottish owned distillery. Master Distiller Billy Walker along with Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson purchased the distillery from Pernod Ricard in 2017. A rarity in today’s spirits world, but a concept that is more welcome than ever.
The distillery itself was originally opened in 1968 and has a mostly gravity fed operational system to save energy. Located close enough to Aberlour that they share a water source, it has mostly made blending malts until now. With casks dating back to the 1970’s, Walker has plenty of aging spirit to begin a strong single malt line right out of the gates.
The goal of the “new” GlenAllachie is to produce fantastic single malts. For that, they have reduced the size of their runs by a factor of four (fermentation step) and lengthened fermentation to 160 hours. At more than six days, this is about twice what most bourbon producers use (but remember, colder climate and other factors are involved here!). The still shape has a huge influence on the lightness of these spirits. They are very large, with wide curves and gentle swan necks. The resultant spirit can be like drinking air, with beautiful fruitiness and floral qualities that gains structure and balance with age.
Tasting Notes: The GlenAllachie 10 Year Old
Vital Stats: 57.1% ABV cask strength, $60, American oak, Pedro Ximénez, Oloroso and virgin oak casks.
Appearance: Burnt gold.
Nose: Inherent softness makes the high ABV manageable. Rose with some charr.
Palate: Slight bitterness from the rose that carries through from the nose. Grassy, leafy sweetness with nice balance and a pleasant avocado oil finish.
Final Thoughts & Score: Compared to the others, the cask strength has a bit more structure behind it that is more aligned with my palate that is used to more aggressive American whiskies. However, it has beautiful nuances found in well crafted single malts that makes this a very fun expression. (4/5)
Tasting Notes: The GlenAllachie 12 Year Old
Vital Stats: 46% ABV, $45. Pedro Ximénez, Oloroso and virgin oak casks.
Nose: Grapefruit, roses, slight high pitch bitterness and a bit of leather. A nice barnyard or hay note lingers.
Palate: Incredibly soft, almost like drinking air. A bit of vanilla with apricot and some tropical fruit. Pleasantly oily and waxy, with lemon and floral qualities.
Final Thoughts & Score: A very clean expression of large pot still highland whiskey production! A truly unique style. The balance between an incredibly lightness and a long, oily finish is an incredible feat. Structure is lacking slightly, of which will be improved with more wood influence. (3/5)
Tasting Notes: The GlenAllachie 18 Year Old
Vital Stats: 46%, $101. American oak, Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso casks.
Appearance: Deep amber.
Nose: Bright lemon, yogurt, a bit of leathery thickness.
Palate: Soft like the 12 year, but with higher acidity and a rounder, more complete feel. Lemon and green apple combined with a bit of porridge and cereal. A bit of dairy provides a long finish.
Final Thoughts & Score: I love funk in a spirit, and the dairy aspect here provides that. It isn’t initially noticeable, nor does it overwhelm the other flavor, but it sets this one apart from the rest of the line and makes it exciting. (4.5/5)
Tasting Notes: The GlenAllachie 25 Year Old
Vital Stats: 48%, $248. Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso casks.
Appearance: Deep copper.
Nose: Clove, ripe fruit, banana muffins with shaved and toasted almonds.
Palate: Soft oak and nice tannins. The lower ABV, along with more wood influence, makes a large difference on the mouthfeel. It feels more mature just by the way it dances in your mouth. Full and oily with a nice sulphur note that leads in raisins, burnt honey, and a ripe finish.
Final Thoughts & Score: The quarter century mark is one that few new distilleries have the ability to do. One year after opening and The GlenAllachie 25 year bottling is fantastic. A big jump in texture from the younger bottlings, but with a consistent backbone that completes the line in a fantastic way. The expectations here are met in a predictable way, and I enjoy that. This new single malt approach from this distillery is very exciting indeed. (4.5/5)
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After graduating with an engineering degree in Colorado, Cameron Holck discovered his passion for hospitality. He followed his love of the outdoors into the Pacific Northwest where he continues his dedication to bartending, and as a sales representative for Four Roses Bourbon. He warmly welcomes the fact that a night...