We were not alone in our grief when news broke in 2016 that the BenRiach Distillery Co. had been sold to Brown Forman. For the previous decade, BenRiach and Glendronach had been two of the most interesting distilleries to watch. Their impresario Billy Walker had built both whisky brands into respected players in the single malt world. Billy Walker was…
Wait a minute. This all sounds eerily familiar – almost like we talked about the same thing just a week ago…
Like the variety of Cadenhead minis in this year’s KWM Whisky Advent Calendar, this might feel like a bit of deja vu, seeing another a second stubby bottle from the new GlenAllachie lineup. This guy is a bit different than the 12 year old tasted on Day 12 (Just a happy coincidence that those numbers lined up. I wish we could say that we had planned it). The 12 year is bottled at a very respectable 46% ABV, but this is the new GlenAllachie 10-year-old Cask Strength of 54.8%. Just as 46% is the new 43% – Cask Strength should be the new 46%.
When BenRiach and GlenDronach were under Billy Walker’s care, he set the tone by being one of a few producers to bottle at a strength of at least 46% ABV and also explicitly stating on most releases that no chill-filtration was used and no colouring was added. Along with Compass Box, Bruichladdich/Murray McDavid, Arran and Springbank amongst others, Billy Walker’s distillery bottles helped shape the palate of many Scotch drinkers that were just getting into the hobby five, ten, and fifteen years ago.
For me and many others, 46% is often seen as a good starting point for good Scotch. That isn’t to say that bottling at less than 46% automatically makes a whisky bad – it does make it a little less intriguing though. The same can be said for chill-filtration and adding colouring. I won’t completely write off a company that uses such methods in a (misguided) effort to make their Scotch whisky more palatable to the masses – I just don’t see how intentionally adulterating your product for the sake of homogenization improves it.
He also adopted the interesting choice of capitalizing a letter in the middle of the distillery name, doing to GlenAllachie the same as he did with BenRiach and GlenDronach. For some reason, he did not do the same thing with Glenglassaugh when that was previously owned by his group.
Another thing that Billy Walker did with the previous distilleries in his care that he has carried to his new foray is regular cask strength offerings. We already received some of the first official Single Cask releases from GlenAllachie earlier this fall. Having a cask strength bottle in the core lineup is something that eventually happened with GlenDronach and BenRiach, but with GlenAllachie, Walker has released one right out of the gate. I guess that is what purchasing 50,000 casks along with the distillery allows you to do.
Back to the GlenAllachie 10 Year Cask strength. Unlike the current GlenDronach and BenRiach Cask Strength offerings, The GlenAllachie has a stated age of at least 10 years old. Whether that age changes or disappears in the future remains to be seen.
A quick note: We currently have bottles of GlenAllachie 10 Year Cask Strength Batch 1 on the shelves, which is bottled at 57.1%. As this mini bottle is 54.8% ABV, it must be from a different batch. It does not have a batch number on the mini bottle, but Batch 2 was bottled at the same 54.8% ABV, so we will assume the mini is of Batch 2 as well.
Both batches have been created from a combination of carefully selected ex-Bourbon, virgin oak, Oloroso Puncheon and PX Sherry Puncheon Casks containing whisky at least ten years of age then bottled at cask strength.
GlenAllachie 10 Year Cask Strength Batch 2 - 54.8% ABV
Evan’s Tasting Note
Nose: big cereal and grain, newly sanded lumber, peaches and cream, pickled ginger, sliced pears, sesame seeds, cake fondant and white chocolate.
Palate: juicy and creamy with lots of fruit and big spice notes at the front along with beer nuts, cashews, toasty and also green oak, honeydew melon, pineapples, sweet Thai chili sauce and spicy ginger.
Finish: spicy but sweet with a nutty note thrown in. It creates a warming sensation with a pleasant creaminess on the fade.
Playing catch-up on our 2018 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar?