Monday, May 16, 2022

Review / Glenallachie 8 years old

This new whisky is the latest expression to enter the core range of the Speyside single malt distillery of Glenallachie (pronounced glen-alla-key). The Glenallachie 8 years old sees whisky from four different cask types married together. These are virgin oak casks, ex-red wine barriques, plus ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheons. The casks were hand selected by Billy Walker, the Master Blender for Glenallachie, for this first batch. It is bottled at 46% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. The Glenallachie 8 years old will be available via specialist whisky retailers worldwide and is expected to retail for £42.50/ $55.50 US.

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

The colour is deep gold with a tint of amber is sweet and vibrant. Aromas of sultana and fresh green apple mingle with toffee, fudge and raisin. Underneath are further aromas of warming wood spices (especially cinnamon), brown sugar, milk chocolate and and a hint of something uplifting and floral. 

On the palate this whisky is immediately sweet and sugary. Crumbly muscovado sugar and plump juicy raisins and sultanas lead the way. These notes are followed by caramel, fudge and toffee with a suggestion of milk chocolate and cocoa powder. Other sweet notes begin to develop with time - think of molasses, stewed apples and vanilla ice cream covered in butterscotch.

Warming spices come through. These follow two tracks - woody oak, which gives a drying and slightly bitter edge, and baking spices. These give warmth, depth and add to the complexity. Think of cinnamon, all-spice and a pinch of mace. A slightly strange burnt characteristic appears towards the end. This is a little bitter and tannic with hints of toasted nuts and burnt caramel.

The finish is of decent length. The sweet and fruity notes hold well but slowly begin to fade. This allows the woody and spicy elements to come to the fore. It gives a gripping and drying warmth. Unfortunately that burnt characteristic from the late palate also reappears.

What's the verdict?

This whisky is now the new entry point into the Glenallachie core range. We can see why they have done this and it is good to see someone putting out an age statement of under 10 years. It presents a whisky at around the £40 price point, which was missing before.

Glenallachie have become known for their sherry cask expressions and experimentation since Billy Walker took over. To this end the new 8 years old feels a little like Glenallachie Lite. There are obvious sherry cask elements there but it lacks the characteristics that can only come with age. Also, that bitter burnt note is a little off-putting and disappointing towards the end.

1 comment:

Greg Beaulieu said...

Sounds like this is not a whisky to watch out for, thank you for the review. Oddly enough, my biggest gripe about Glenallachie is the terrible font choice they made to use on their labels.