These three whiskies are first in a new series of limited edition single malts from the Speyside distillery of Glenallachie that will form The Virgin Oak Finish Series - the Glenallachie Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish, the French Virgin Oak Finish and the Spanish Virgin Oak Finish. Each whisky has first been matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels before being transferred for a short period to the three different virgin oak casks. All are released at 12 years of age.
The Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish showcases Chinquapin oak, a sub-species of American oak. This was sourced from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri and air dried for four years before being coopered in to casks. The French Virgin Oak Finish uses casks made of French oak sourced from the Haute-Garonne region in the Pyrennes. The staves were air dried for 15 months before coopering. The Spanish Virgin Oak Finish features casks made from Spanish oak sourced from the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. These were air dried for 18 months prior to coopering.
Our tasting notes
Glenallachie Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a candied and sweet aroma - think of honey, vanilla, white chocolate and marshmallow with plenty of fresh sawn oak and baking spices such as cinnamon and all-spice coming through later.
Glenallachie French Virgin Oak Finish
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose has a distinct initial aroma of beeswax furniture polish. Underneath this are further aromas of golden syrup, brown sugar, milk chocolate and hints of burnt caramel and coffee grounds.
Glenallachie Spanish Virgin Oak Finish
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose has a delicious mix of sweet and woody aromas. Vanilla, honey and coconut combine with toasted oat, almond and a pinch of cinnamon spice. Underneath is dried apple, gingerbread and a hint of candied lemon.
What's the verdict?
Well this is a very interesting set of whiskies from Glenallachie and one that shows off their increasing innovation. It is intriguing to see how the same single malt goes in differing directions with a finishing period in different virgin oak casks. The differences are pronounced and it will also be interesting to see what other additions may join the range down the line.
Which is our favourite? That is a tough to answer as they are all good, but in different ways. But if we had to choose one then it would be the Spanish Virgin Oak Finish. It is simply sublime.
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