Monday, November 1, 2021

Review / Glenallachie Wood Finishes (2021 Releases)

These three new limited editions from the boutique Speyside distillery of Glenallachie will go into their Wood Finishes Series. The latest additions feature whiskies finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry, ex-Ruby Port and ex-Madeira wine casks. All have been created in small batches and are bottled at 48% ABV. They are also all non chill-filtered and of natural colour. Exact numbers of each bottling have not been revealed.

The Glenallachie Pedro Ximenez Sherry Wood Finish 11 years old has been matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels for nine years before being transferred for a final two year period to the sweet sherry casks. 

The Ruby Port Wood Finish 12 years old has seen ten years of maturation in American oak ex-bourbon casks before being re-racked to Ruby Port pipes for the remaining two years of maturation. 

The Madeira Wood Finish 13 years old has been matured for 11 years in American oak before two years of finishing in Madeira barrels. They will be available in limited numbers in selected global markets. The prices are £60, £63 and £68 respectively. 

The Glenallachie distillery is located just outside the town of Aberlour in the Speyside region of Scotland. It was founded by Mackinlay, McPherson & Co. in 1967 and was designed by renowned distillery architect William Delmé-Evans. The current owners are The Glenallachie Distillers Co. who took over in mid-2017. 

Under their ownership, and the vision of Master Distiller Billy Walker in particular, the brand has quickly established itself as a single malt brand and has a cult following. Previously, bottlings were rare with most spirit going into popular blends such as Ballantine's and Chivas Regal. The annual production capacity is four million litres, although Walker has reduced this to around 750,000 litres per year.

Our tasting notes

Glenallachie Pedro Ximenez Wood Finish 11 years old
The colour is deep gold and the nose is sweet and rich with a savoury undertone. Aromas of caramel and treacle toffee are joined by caramelised tropical fruits (especially pineapple) and walnut. Earthy and woody spices are also present - think of cinnamon, toasted oak, cocoa nibs and dry soil.

On the palate this whisky is silky and sweet. Creamy butterscotch and caramel are quickly accompanied by black treacle tart with toffee sauce and raisins. This element evolves to become reminiscent of rum and raisin ice cream. The combination is delicious. There is also plenty of moscovado sugar and dark chocolate (or is ot high percentage cocoa?), plus a shaving of oak and nutmeg with a twist of orange peel. It feels highly complex. The caramelised tropical fruits also come through but are a little dimmer than on the nose. Hints of golden syrup and increasingly robust malt round things off nicely.

The finish is long and sweet. The richness drives this on, especially the caramel/ treacle characteristics and the chocolate and dried fruits. The chocolate-like element lingers longest and accentuates the later spices and malty notes. Wonderful.

Glenallachie Ruby Port Wood Finish 12 years old
The colour is a deep amber with a reddish tint and the nose is rich and heavy. Aromas of dried fruits, caramel and milk chocolate lead the way. Raisin, date and fig are particularly evident. The richness is complimented by supporting aromas of Turkish delight and mocha.

On the palate this whisky is as big and bold as the nose suggested. The floral Turkish Delight note from the nose shows much more immediately and is joined by delicious further notes of caramel, milk chocolate and a hint of espresso coffee. Then comes some maltiness and heather honey to add depth and structure. The dried fruit notes are never far away and start to come through well in the second half of the palate. Again think of raisin, date and fig but with a suggestion of dried cherry also. Some late baking and earthy spices come through, as does a late hint of marzipan and ginger marmalade.

The finish is also rich and seems to just go on and on forever. The sweet and fruity notes provide the richness and these hang around well. Once they begin to dissipate then the malt and spices take over - think of cinnamon, ginger, ginseng and hints of star anise and liquorice.

Glenallachie Madeira Wood Finish 13 years old 
The colour is vibrant gold and the nose is full of sweet and confected aromas. Milk chocolate, toffee and golden syrup rise first from the glass. These are followed by further aromas of sultanas, candied orange and dried apple, plus a pinch of cinnamon and cocoa powder. Very enticing.

On the palate this whisky has a wonderful sweetness to begin with. Big juicy sultanas and toffee kick things off, and sit alongside notes of golden syrup and honeycomb. There is also a distinct malty cereal feel underneath. Further layers of flavour start to evolve - first comes some more dried fruit (think of candied oranges and limes, plus hint of raisins and fig). Then comes a note reminiscent of vanilla sponge cake with butterscotch icing. And finally some warming baking spices - imagine cinnamon and all-spice, plus a pinch of white pepper and powdered ginger. A late oaky woodiness adds yet more depth.

The finish is a touch on the short side. The sweet and dried fruit characteristics fade relatively quickly and this leaves the malty cereals, warming spices and oak notes to take control. They linger around but just not quite long enough sadly.

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