Founded in 1967, GlenAllachie is part of that flurry of new distillery builds that highlighted the period of great optimism for the Scotch whisky industry. Fuelled by an American market hungry for whisky, the distilleries of this time were designed to accommodate the lighter, drier style that the Americans seemed to prefer.
That was certainly true of GlenAllachie, who’s style has always been regarded as light and certainly barley-forward.
GlenAllachie has, up until now, been best known as a blending ingredient of the Chivas Brothers stable. They bought the distillery in 1989, re-opening the Speyside site after it was decommissioned in 1987. Rarely seen as a single malt outside from the odd independent bottling and Chivas limited edition, the house style saw it being used as a vital – though usually anonymous – in a number of blends.
The distillery has taken on a new purpose in the Scotch spectrum following the 2017 purchase by Billy Walker. Walker had sold the BenRiach distillery and its sister sites GlenDronach and GlenAllachie to Brown-Forman for a healthy sum, meaning he was not only on the lookout for a new distillery to play with, but also one that had plenty of stock maturing in warehouses to create new expressions.
Launched in 2018, GlenAllachie’s name is taking – for the first time in its history – pride and place on the front of its bottles. The core-range 12 and 18-year-olds are joined by a 10-year-old cask strength, which is released in batches. Old-school style whiskies that are driven by their spirit, rather than their casks, there’s plenty of cereal across the range and the complexity is revealed with the patience of the drinker.
Now we have something a little bit special, and different, with the release of a virgin oak single cask exclusive to Australia. Distilled 12 November 2008, this was bottled April 2019 as a 10-year-old. The cask was chosen by the brand’s Australian importers and has yielded 270 bottles at 56.3%.
The virgin oak gives this cask quite a different dimension to the releases we’ve tried previously, sweet oak spice and fairy-floss with on a bed of deeper dark fruits and butterscotch and dark chocolate mocha.
A distillery that’s been flying under the radar for over 60 years is now getting its time in the limelight. And while these releases are drawn from the Chivas Brothers period of ownership (and earlier), some of the experimentation going on at the distillery right now (160 hour ferments, for one) inspire hope for a very exciting future. When their capacity is 4 million litres per annum but the careful consideration and planning of their distilling means they’re only really producing 700,000 litres, you can be confident there’s some ideas being brewed up at GlenAllachie right now.
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