Taking stock

Posted 11 July 2018 / In Glenallachie
The Dramble reviews The GlenAllachie 18 year old

Bottle Name: GlenAllachie 18 year old

ABV: 46%
Distillery: Glenallachie
Region: Speyside

When you construct a distillery from scratch, you have total rein over the spirit style and cask selection right from the get go – you might have to wait years to bear the fruits of those decisions, but there’s almost total freedom. Conversely, when you purchase a distillery (and likely inherit some stock), the style and profile, volume and breath of stocks you have to play with are all set. At least for the short term. Rest assured, a big part of the decision-making process for the purchase of Glenallachie in 2017 would have been the size, character and quality of its existing cask stock. Master Distiller Billy Walker seems happy enough with it – only a year later and the now ‘The GlenAllachie’ has just released its first core range of whiskies.

The new core range (named ‘Foundation Range’) consists of four expressions – 10 year old Cask Strength (which is batch produced), 12 year old, 18 year old and 25 year old. All four bottlings include oloroso and PX sherry casks (no doubt to provide a consistent ‘calling card’ aroma and flavour profile across the entire range) - the younger two also include virgin oak cask.

The 18 year old is bottled at 46% ABV and is composed of whisky aged in American oak ex-bourbon as well the two types of sherry highlighted above. It can be purchased for a little over £90 here in the UK.

Nose: Quite malty, and fairly sweet with orange peels and red berries. There’s an interesting confectionary note of caramel - of the salted variety – which adds a real sense of steeliness. Throughout, pastries – iced buns and cinnamon swirls. The addition of water reduces the steely and salty qualities and emphasises patisserie baked sweet goods – puff pastry and vanilla cream.

Taste: Slightly oily on the arrival – the sherry influence has provided some good texture here. Wild honey to start, then followed by a compote of sweet fruits – toffee apples, hedgerow berries, figs and a scattering of raisins. In the mid palate, both almonds and spicing come to the fore – cinnamon and ginger – becoming steadily bitter and slightly sour when played off of the sweet fruit development prior. Water adds a slight nuttiness – hazel – as well as emphasising orchard fruits – but, it’s easy to wash this one out, so dilution should be particularly sparing.

Finish: Medium in length with chocolate ganache, ginger and touches of vanilla.

Everything about The GlenAllachie 18 year old seems quite sound. It’s likable, and tasty - each of the three casks types used to create the overall composition exert themselves to just the right levels, with none of them fighting to rule the roost. It’s quite a sweet whisky, but this too is tempered – with spicing holding back the more saccharine flavours just as they’re on the cusp of becoming cloying. That said, the flavour profile here is very typical – the combination of ex-bourbon, ex-oloroso and ex-PX has achieved exactly what it was meant to, and therefore exactly what you’d expect. There are no surprises to be had, no revelations, no radical tangents – it’s just all a bit safe and predictable. But, then again, this is a new Foundation Range product (and rather in the flagship price range) – so, departures and digressions are probably far from what Billy Walker and The GlenAllachie want to achieve with this first release.

Score: 85/100


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