Scotch whisky distillery The GlenAllachie recently announced a new trio of limited-edition single malts that will join the brand’s Virgin Oak Series.
They include the 8-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish, the 7-year-old Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish, and the 10-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish.
A statement from the distiller notes that “virgin oak” refers to wood that has not previously been used to age any other wine or spirit, and the influence it has on the whisky is that of the oak alone.
The GlenAllachie’s Virgin Oak Series looks to explore the impact of oak provenance, terroir and genus on flavor development during the whisky-maturation process.
The GlenAllachie officials explained that the three unusual cask types were obtained by Scotch whisky industry icon Billy Walker, who’s built a reputation over his 50-year career for wood innovation.
The new whiskies were first matured in American oak, ex-bourbon barrels before finishing another 18 months in the different oak varieties.
The 8-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish was further aged in Sessile oak sourced from the Atlantic coast of Scotland.
Scottish oak is rarely used for cask production as it has a tendency to knot as it grows. This creates challenges for coopers crafting staves … mostly because it’s porous, prone to leaking, and is quite scarce.
The distiller noted that before being filled, the wood was naturally air-dried for 36 months, allowing for further development of flavor characteristics. It was then toasted and charred to a medium level.
The 7-year-old Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish saw 18 months of aging in the oak wood of the Zemplén forest in the mountains of northeast Hungary.
The rocky volcanic soil, along with the colder climate and higher altitude in which it grows, make the trees in the area grow slowly, developing tighter grain. Tight grain is a desirable trait for aging spirits.
The 10-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish used hogsheads made of oak from the Spanish Cantabrian mountains, which feature a cool, yet humid climate.
The oak was dried in open air for 18 months, then toasted and charred to open up the pores for flavor extraction by the whisky.
All three of the single malts were bottled at 48% ABV, without added coloring or chill filtration.
“Virgin oak of varying provenance presents endless possibilities to me as a whisky maker,” Billy Walker said. “Exploring a variety of oak types, toasting and charring the casks to particular levels, and then closely observing the spirit development over time has been a truly joyful experience.”
He said the three new bottlings embody the range of flavors offered by oaks of different origins.
“From the Scottish, expect notes of biscuit, pear and gingerbread; the Hungarian boasts waves of lemon juice, cinnamon and raisins; and the Spanish oak has imparted bursts of toffee sauce and ripe banana. Each is as uniquely enticing as the last,” Walker added.
The launch coincides with the release of Batch 9 of The GlenAllachie 10-year-old Cask Strength, previously named World’s Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards in 2021 for its fourth batch.
The GlenAllachie’s new Virgin Oak Finishes and the 10-year-old Cask Strength Batch 9 will be available at global specialist retailers with a suggested retail price starting at £62.99.
For more information, check out www.theglenallachie.com.