GlenAllachie 10 Year Cask Strength
By Eric Schmalz - April 17, 2019
In today’s whiskey fabric, the category of blends cannot be ignored. Often looked down upon in terms of quality and flavor, producers like Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, and Dewars have been stigmatized to a certain degree. So what happens to a whiskey when it is used almost exclusively to create these big name blends?
Teaninich, Cameronbridge, Linkwood, and Port Dundas, are all examples of distilleries that rarely release bottles to the public, but most people have probably had in a blend, or several, without even realizing it. The shadow that is cast by these juggernaut blending houses encompasses quite a few distilleries and usually buries some truly unique gems.
Today we are looking at one such distillery. Built in 1967 by Mackinlays in the speyside region of scotland, GlenAllachie has long been a producer living in the shadow of big blends. Going from Mackinlays to Invergordon in 1985 and then to Campbell Distillers, later Pernod Ricard, in 1989 this distillery has had quite a full history behind it. However, aside from spending a few years shuttered under Pernod Ricard, the primary purpose of this distillery was producing for blends, specifically in recent years for Chivas Brothers and their higher end product lines.
The major reason I am able to cover this whiskey for you today is the sale of the distillery to Billy Walker in 2017. After being a part of the resurrection of the BenRiach distillery from 2004 to 2016, Walker made the decision to cut ties and move on. Partnering with Trisha Savage, former general manager at BenRiach, and Graham Stevenson, ex-managing director at Inver House Distillers, Walker made GlenAllachie his next venture, both for the spirit itself and for a fresh start in the industry once again.
Recently I had to opportunity to taste the 10 and 12 year releases at one of our events and while I chose to highlight the 10 year old cask strength speyside single malt, both it and the 12 year release are stunning.
GlenAllachie 10 Year Cask Strength (image via Ray's Wine and Spirits)
This whiskey was aged 10 years in a combination of American oak, Pedro Ximénez sherry, oloroso sherry, and virgin oak barrels and bottled at 57.1% ABV.
Leading on the nose are well balanced and very fruit forward aromas, an absolutely enticing bouquet. Initially there are hints of an artificial sweetness with cinnamon and pepper beyond that, finishing with cherry and raspberry creams, very reminiscent of a fruit tart.
The palate reminded me almost of sangria, with an explosion of peaches, pears, cherry, apricots, and spices as well, cinnamon, anise, cardamom. The body is rich and round, delivering flavors in waves that come in a repeating cycle. Of many of the single malts I have had, this is one of only a handful that I would describe as ‘uniquely refreshing’.
The finish holds for some time. The spice picks up a bit, especially the cinnamon, having the flavor of red hots without the heat. Beyond this is honeyed pears and peaches, with a round, smooth end.
I can see why Billy Walker was so enticed by this brand, and I am quite sad that it took the better part of 50 years to come to the limelight. What we have now is a product line deserving of more attention than it is getting, and my hope that more people will give it a try. The 10 year is quite an exceptional single malt and something that I will be enjoying often from here on.
Overall: 9/10 Incredible
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