Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Review / Torabhaig Allt Gleann

The Allt Gleann is just the second ever single malt release from Torabhaig (pronounced tora-vaig), the newest distillery on the isle of Skye. This follows the inaugural Legacy Series 2017 bottling that was released earlier this year in February and sold out immediately. Allt Gleann, meaning 'old glen' in Gaelic, is the second of four planned releases for 2021 and 2022 in The Legacy Series. The new whisky has been created from just 30 first-fill and re-fill ex-bourbon barrels that were distilled and filled in 2017. It is bottled at 46% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. Torabhaig Allt Gleann is available from the distillery shop and via selected specialist whisky retailers. A bottle will cost £50.

The Torabhaig distillery was founded in 2016 by Mossburn Distillers. It is housed in old farm buildings dating back to the 1820s and located in the village of Sleat, close to the mainland ferry terminal on the south western tip of Skye. Production started in January 2017 and the visitor centre opened a year later in March 2018. They use barley peated to level of 55-60ppm (phenol parts per per million), which puts it on a level with some of the heavier Islay malts. The annual capacity is half a million litres, but they are currently operating around the 400,000 per annum mark.

Our tasting notes

The colour is pale lemon yellow and the nose is powerful and peaty. The hefty peat smoke rises from the glass and has a distinct earthy and seaweed-like quality to it - think of damp moss, dried kelp and bonfire embers. Underneath are further aromas of green grass, crisp apple, malted cereals and a whiff of salty brine.

On the palate this whisky feels robust and hot. Peppery spices and that punchy peat smoke lead the way. The combination has a hot, acrid and savoury feel to it. Black and pink peppercorns mix with green chilli and clove, with the ashy ember-like smoke drifting around them. There is also the damp earth and moss from the nose, plus the dried seaweed and salty sea spray and brine. It grips the tastebuds and becomes a little chalky and flinty with time. A distinct underlying note of malted cereal is also evident.

Then comes some much needed sweetness to temper the robust savoury notes. These are barely detectable to begin with but evolve as the savoury notes mellow a touch. Vanilla and honey come through first, followed by white chocolate and coconut cream. Then comes a hit of sweetened cooked fruits - imagine baked apple with bitterscotch sauce and poached pear with milk chocolate.

The savoury nature returns for the long finish as the sweet and fruity characteristics fade after their brief appearance. This brings back the warmth and spiciness taking the whisky in a drying and peppery direction once again.

What's the verdict?

It is always interesting to taste a whisky from a new distillery, so we were delighted to receive this sample from Torabhaig. This is a very expressive whisky for one so young and has a feisty and fiery edge to it. The peat smoke and savoury notes dominate but it shows potential. For us, these notes need taming a little to give balance and make this an easier whisky to digest and enjoy.

Torabhaig should also be congratulated for putting this whisky out at a competitive and accessible price. This is not always the case with new distilleries when they release early limited editions, so £50 for a bottle (if you can get hold of one) is an excellent price. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Torabhaig and how their whiskies will evolve with a bit of extra time in the cask.

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