Glenallachie 15yo (46%, OB, 2019)

After a few independent bottlings of Glenallachie, here is finally one of those new official bottlings from Billy Walkers new pet project. After Glendronach and Benriach, now Glenallachie gets the Walker treatment, and the results are here for all to be seen. When this new core range was released in 2018, it included a Cask Strength 10yo, a 12yo, a 18yo and I believe a 25yo. Today there are many, many more of those blended and reduced bottlings available. A year after the introduction came this 15yo. Even without trying it, I already, really, really liked the look of it. The wonderful Sherried color looks nice, the blue label looks nice, and since the other Whiskies from the core range were pretty good as well, the 15yo appeared very promising to me. But buyer beware, looks can be deceiving, but hopefully not this time…

Color: Dark orange brown.

Nose: Sherried, slightly tarry and dusty. Cask toast, cookie dough and oranges. Milk chocolate, raisins, cherries and vanilla ice cream with quite a lot of floral aroma’s, as well as some perfumed wood. In part a perfume and ever so slightly, the smell of hair lacquer. Modern and clean. Very modern Sherry notes, which is miles away from the notes of Sherried Whiskies distilled in the 60’s and 70’s. Sweet (pink bubblegum) and mildly fruity, ever so slightly rotting fruit with a strange acidity to it. Weird. Lots of succulent raisins combined with dry dust. Vanilla and soft wood with lots of sharp fresh air and mint. Painted oak cask ends and dried virgin oak. Yes soft and dry oak is here to stay. Citrus fruit confectionery, you know, the ones coated with sugar. Where initially there was a sense of fruit to this, after some breathing this turns a bit darker and less fruity-friendly, yet retaining its (ultra) modern (woody) quality. Freshly opened, this didn’t seem all that interesting to me, somewhat closed and thin. Luckily this is no longer the case, at least not to this extent. Enough happening now after 1/3rd of the bottle gone.

Taste: Initially a bit thin and quite sweet, toffee and caramel sweetness, not even fruity sweetness. Now tar, cardboard and toasted oak, raisins and yes, some cinnamon. Wow lots of raisins in what seems to be a full bowl of vanilla ice-cream. It’s like (PX) raisins are dissolved in here. Further back a little woody bitterness. Initially a short-lived unbalance with some sort of acidity that doesn’t seem to integrate well (the rotting bit from the nose maybe?) Sometimes the “thin” bit returns as well. Fruity wood-infused sugar water. A strange sort of fruity sweetness. Not very fruity at all actually. Cookie dough and a trickle of smoke from the fire place. Quite a short finish though, just the warmth (and some oaky acidity and bitterness) stays behind for a while longer. Actually,, it is sometimes a bit too sweet or off. Orange skins, and yogurt acidity.

This is a Malt that does some things right and some things well, yet it doesn’t convince me enough as a whole. It seems a bit cold and too modern. In no way do I manage to click with it. A digital Malt. Vinyl aficionados will understand. On the plus side, this is quite different from the 12yo and the 10yo cask strength editions, which warrants its existence. On the down side, it’s just not that big, full, fruity or inspiring. I really expected a lot more from an official Sherried 15yo. In a way, I also expected a bit more from the Tamdhu 15 as well, but for me that one turned out to be nicer than this one though. Enough nice aromas on the nose here, but I feel this could have been and should have been better. I’m sure this will improve with future batches, since the newer distillate seems to be better. That’s why for me, for now, the first 10yo Cask Strength version is the most recommendable from the ever-expanding core range. But there are so many bottlings now, and I’ve hardly tasted them all. By now three more batches exist, so I hope those are carrying on the torch lit by the first one.

When tasting these new Glenallachies for the first time, it were the younger ones which surprised me the most and just seemed the most interesting since they seem to be showing the way forward, seen from the perspective of the newer distillate, predominantly, yet not exclusively, aged in Ex-Bourbon casks. I believe from this, that Glenallachie will be better with every passing year, as long as they manage to source the better quality casks available. Since the initial releases, it seems like every month a few new expressions see the light of day, and they aren’t all single casks as well. Somewhat similar to what Highland Park is doing now and Benriach did earlier. At the time of writing, three different virgin oak expressions were released…

Since I liked the 10yo Cask Strength version and the 12yo, and the 18yo only scored just one point more than the 12yo (at more than twice the price), I went for this 15yo, which seemed like a safe bet. I thought it should be at least as good as those mentioned earlier, and well, it is quite a dark colored expression, which didn’t break the bank, so I went for it without much thought and opened it before the aforementioned expressions I picked up earlier than the 15yo. Well this 15yo is a funny puppy. First of all, it doesn’t taste like a proper 15yo, but more like a NAS Sherry bottling. Somewhat designed and maybe rushed to the store perhaps? I don’t know. OK, the bottle has been open for only a few weeks and is still nearly full. Maybe it needs some more time and air. For now it lacks depth and it is more about cheap cream Sherry and PX, than good old quality Oloroso, which I expected. I’m actually a bit disappointed to be honest. Sure, oak and toasted cask are present, but the sugar water still dominates. Seems to me this was brought to the market as a direct competitor to the equally sweet Glendronach 15yo “Revival” and maybe the Tamdhu 15yo. In the end it never really grew on me, and it didn’t really get much better with time. It was fixed to much in its place hindering development, as if it was told not to. I finished the bottle rather quickly, which took me by surprise a bit, so, why did this go so fast? Did it become that good after some more breathing? Not exactly, in fact the Whisky is nothing more than OK, do-able, and yes, it luckily did have its moments, however, it went down so fast because it bored me and I wanted it out of the way for something better. So for a while it became the Whisky to start an evening with, until it was gone…

Points: 83

Glenallachie 37yo 1973/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6746, 266 bottles, 500 ml)

After all those fairly recent distillates, I guess its time to look at something older. This time we’ll have a look at a 37 year old expression of Glenallachie bottled by the Dutch Whisky Investors: The Whisky Talker. The Mo Òr line of Single Malt Whiskies was thought of as an investment, or as a luxury gift for business people. Sometimes you can even encounter a bottle like this in a super-duper hotel bar. Yes, Whisky is the new Swiss Watch or a premium golf-set. Glenallachie though, is one of the workhorses of Pernod Ricard, a laborer, meant for the Clan Campbell blend, not really a luxury brand isn’t it? But if you are worrying about the size of your next yacht, who cares? Ignorance is bliss. Let’s see if this old Glenallachie is any good.

Glenallachie 37yo 1973/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6746, 266 bottles, 500 ml)Color: Almost gold.

Nose: Soft and fruity. Next, some old bottle effect and great Speyside seventies fruity wax. Anoraks know this from Caperdonichs from 1972 and Tomatin’s from 1976, to name but a few. Vanilla plays a nice part in keeping the whole together. Definitely a (second) refill Hogshead. The cask wasn’t very active, but over almost 40 years, the wood did play it’s part in ageing this Whisky. Just let this breathe and it gets even better and better. Hints of old soft (sugared) mint in the background. Almond cookies with a bit of dust on them. Old wooden floor and a very distant smoky touch. The mint holds its ground and keeps accompanying the rest of the aroma’s from the nose. Great old malt, but it has its limitations. Lacks a bit of development compared to some of the (non-Sherried) greats from that era, but the whole is still fantastic and a treat to nose. Don’t get me wrong. Maybe this one shouldn’t have been reduced, although at 46% it’s still no dud.

Taste: Quite light and fruity. Sure, Speyside peach from old American wood. Hints of paper. Slightly sweet black tea with raspberry flavour. Especially here tasting it, the reduction shows itself. Making the whole a bit thin and shortening the finish. Also the cask seems to have been a bit tired. Hints of wood and sawdust and a hint of white wine. Sweaty high quality Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. The wood shows a more soft mocha note now. Sawdust and pencil shavings. The mint from the nose stays behind in the back of my throat.

Whisky from a great time, but not the best expression from that time though. Probably a bit too tired a cask, and certainly should have not been reduced. It may have been already a bit frail and reducing it may have dulled it down. However, it still is an example of aged Speyside Whisky from the era, with this wonderful fruitiness and lighter style. I don’t know why, but this screams for some Roxy music from 1973. “The Bogus Man” sounds just right.

Points: 87

Followed this up with the 1976 Benromach. Both are 46% ABV, and both score 87 points, but the The Glenallachie is lighter, and smells more like a Whisky from another time. I would prefer the Glenallachie, especially for its nose.

Glenallachie 11yo 1995/2007 (59.4%, The Scottish Liqueur Centre, Beinn a’Cheò, Bourbon Hogshead #33, 273 bottles)

And here is already the third Glenallachie of 2015. Earlier contenders for the Glenallachie award were a 2007 distillate of Dewar Rattray (83 Points), and not so long ago an 1995 offering from Kintra (82 Points), so both scoring low 80’s, which makes them nice, but not great in my book. This time around we’ll have a look at a Glenallachie bottled by The Scottish Liqueur Centre. Yes I know, they are not the most widely known independent bottlers around. The Scottish Liqueur Centre is owned by Morrison & Mackay. Still no bells ringing? What about one of their other brands: Carn Mor, surely you have heard about that! More recent bottlings of Beinn a’Cheo (mountain of mist) no longer have The Scottish Liqueur Centre on their labels, making Beinn a’Cheo a true brand of Morrison & Mackay, just like Carn Mor is.

Glenallachie 11yo 1995/2007 (59.4%, The Scottish Liqueur Centre, Beinn A'Cheò, Cask #33)Color: White wine.

Nose: Spicy and fruity and lots of other traits you know from typical Refill Bourbon casked high strength Whiskies. Remember all those Cadenhead bottlings? Fresh and slightly soapy. Old lavender soap, which only adds to the nose, not disturbing it. Whiffs of rural organics. And nice warm barley. Typical oak. Hints of vanilla from the American oak. When all that is out-of-the-way and the Whisky settles down in my glass, some nice fruits emerge along with a nice fatty creaminess. I won’t say it’s simple, but it is typical, well and it’s not really complex either. Not bad though. The oak really gets out when you warm it up in your hand. Wait a minute, warming it in your hand and giving it some time to breathe it really opens up. Finds balance. Nice fruit agian, but the sweeter fruits are now accompanied by citrus fruits. Sometimes this nose reminds me of Angostura 1919, a Rum.

Taste: Sweet. with almonds and fruit. Quite a surprise after the “typical” nose. This goes to show, that nosing isn’t everything. It’s sweeter than usual, but never crosses the line. However it’s sweet enough never to make it your daily drinker, the ABV is too high for that anyway. The wood is here too. Bit mocha and oak, milk chocolate. The wood forming a spine for the big sweet fruity body of the Whisky. Lovely stuff. I also like the almond that returns for the finish, although the oak plays a bigger part, turning herbal with air. After the heat passes your throat. The finish is nothing more than the fruity sweetness, some paper and overall “shortness”. The finish is definitely the weak part of this Glenallachie. Not a lot remains.

There is a lesson to be learned here. This is no spectacular Whisky when freshly opened. It’s closed and seems very simple. This is maybe thé example to let a Whisky breath to unlock its full potential. If you do, this ugly duckling turns out to be quite special after all.

Points: 86

Glenallachie 13yo 1995/2009 (46%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #17, 36 bottles)

Rummaging through the unsorted part of my sample collection I found this Kintra from 2009. Another Glenallachie and that’s great! Kintra’s big cheese, Erik started releasing Kintra Whiskies in 2009 so this is one of the first bottlings, and who knows, maybe even the very first. 2009 saw the release of a 1996 Ben Nevis, a 1997 Clynelish, a 1984 Macduff and in June, this 1995 Glenallachie.

A mind boggling amount of 36 bottles were released of this Glenallachie, so this is a collector’s item for sure! I don’t think this was from a small cask, probably only part of a cask, just like the Ledaig he bottled in 2010.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Fatty and fruity. Some butter and wood smelling like jasmine. Thus quite floral and spicy. Fresh air. Hints of white pepper and again and again this florality whiffs by. Pencil shavings come next. A lovely nose. Nice added depth from the Sherry cask, not only giving it some mustiness, but also some fruit. When smelled more vigorously, whiffs of toned down peppermint pass by, but also some hay, dry raisins and cardboard. If I would hazard a guess, I would say Fino Sherry?

Taste: Spicy first but quickly turning into sugar water sweetness. Dare I say it has some peat to it? The spice and the sweet balance each other out, so it’s not overly sweet. Warming going down. Hints of milk chocolate and a slightly burnt note. Still, lovely stuff, but also a bit unbalanced. Highly drinkable and enjoyable nevertheless. The sweetness makes way for a more woody, and acidic, dryness towards the finish. The finish itself is of medium length and pleasant, but doesn’t leave a great aftertaste, since especially a weak wood and cardboard note stays behind for a short while.

This is one of those highly drinkable Whiskies, where the weakest link is the finish, and especially the aftertaste. To get past that you tend to take another sip, and yet another sip, and yet another, so you’ll finish your glass rather quickly and after that you ask yourself where has the bottle gone? Maybe not my favourite Kintra bottling, but still very good and entertaining.

Points: 84

Glenallachie 7yo 2007/2014 (50%, Dewar Rattray, The Specialists’ Choice, Sherry Butt #900168, 350 bottles)

Glenallachie, just like Braeval, is one of the fairly new distilleries originating in the sixties. Glenallachie was founded in 1967. (Remember Sgt. Pepper’s ?) Glenallachie is located in Banffshire in a region that we particularly know as Speyside. Built by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries and sold to Invergordon Distillers in 1985. S&N ran it for two years and thus closed it down in 1987 and subsequently sold it to Pernod Ricard. Those of you who have read my recent reviews of Glenlivet, Strathisla and Braeval, know that Pernod Ricard are putting a lot of effort into marketing their big brands Aberlour and especially The Glenlivet, but don’t do a lot, if anything, with their other distilleries Strathisla and Braeval, but also Glenallachie, Glenburgie, Glentauchers, Miltonduff, Scapa and Tormore don’t get a lot of “Airplay”.

Glenallachie 7yo 2007/2014 (50%, Dewar Rattray, The Specialists' Choice, Sherry Butt #900168, 350 bottles)Those distilleries are viewed as production capacity for numerous blends owned by Chivas Brothers, like the well-known Chivas Regal. As said before, I would like to see those marketed as Single Malts by their owners! For the time being we’ll have a look at this independent version of a quite young and Sherried Glenallachie.

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Nice half-stale meaty Sherry, with lots of wood, sawdust and pencil shavings and some nice woody spices. All of this wood after only seven years! Chocolate with a breath of fresh air. Lavas and other leafy spices. Remember cleaning out the gutter, when the heap of leaves aren’t completely dried out? After that chocolate combined with toffee, so it is most certainly interesting. Cold gravy.

Taste: Wood with chocolate and a hint of cherry liqueur. Forget about Ferrero Rocher, now we have this! Dark chocolate again and all the woody notes I mentioned above apart from the cedary pencil shavings. The wood brings some bitterness and a kind of acidity, The Whisky really doesn’t need. This sour note would probably disappear after some more ageing, so for me it shows its youth. Wood and leaves is what stays behind towards the finish.

Although initially very interesting, the nose is pretty nice and starting to sip this, yes, nice again, but along the way parts of the taste doesn’t seem to match the rest of it. Somewhere it’s pretty unbalanced and pretty young. A bit mono dimensional. It’s ok and without mayor flaws, but also not a lot to rattle my boat as well.

Points: 83