Thursday, March 7, 2024

Review | Glenallachie 12 years old

The 12 years old forms the cornerstone of the core single malt range from the Speyside distillery of Glenallachie. It sits alongside expressions released at 15- and 18-years of age, plus the 10 years old Cask Strength which is released in batches. The Glenallachie 12 years old features a combination of three cask types - first-fill ex-bourbon, first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry and virgin American oak. This whisky, and the rest of the core range, have been created by Billy Walker - the co-owner and Master Blender of Glenallachie.The Glenallachie 12 years old is bottled at 46% ABV and is both non-chill filtered and of natural colour. It is available from specialist retailers worldwide. A bottle should cost around £45.

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. Glenallachie translates as 'valley of the rocks' from Gaelic. 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 coppery gold and the nose is fruity, floral and rich. Aromas of raisin, prune and caramel mingle with hard toffee, milk chocolate and toasted hazelnut to begin. Further depth is added as aromas of orange oil, cinnamon bark and mocha evolve. Hints of sultana, vanilla pod and dusty wood shavings sit in the background.

On the palate this whisky is rich, sweet and velvety. Luscious and luxurious dried fruits lead the way - think of raisin, sultana, Cognac-soaked prune and candied orange peel. These are joined by hints of juicy peach and apricot, plus some butterscotch sauce and runny honey. These initial characteristics are underpinned by a distinct malty quality and some green apple, which evolves nicely.

Underneath are further notes of milk chocolate and hazelnut praline with a hint of toasted almond. A pinch of cocoa powder and some mocha add depth and complexity. All the time, a distinct warming spiciness is building - think of cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg with suggestions of clove and liquorice root. The caramel from the nose returns right at the end.

The finish is long and rich. It becomes increasingly dry, woody and spicy. This is especially true once the sweet caramel and honey-like notes, plus the dried fruit characteristics start to fade. This leaves drying wood tannins and a distinct nuttiness to the fore, which is accentuated by warm baking spices.

What's The Verdict?

The Glenallachie 12 years old is a delicious whisky and one that perfectly demonstrates how good ex-sherry cask Speyside single malts can be. It is a perfect example of the style. The richness and sweetness leads the way but there is so much depth and complexity that each sip is different. This is also still selling for a decent price in a world where whisky prices, especially those with sherry cask maturation, are ever increasing. Definitely worth buying for your whisky shelf.

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