Billy Walker And The Rebirth Of The GlenAllachie Distillery

Famed Scotch whisky Master Distiller Billy Walker not too long ago celebrated a half-century within the Scotch whisky enterprise. Walker has a formidable fame within the business having been concerned with the revitalization of a number of up-and-coming distilleries, most notably BenRiach and GlenDronach.

His newest mission is the GlenAllachie Distillery. Walker was chargeable for placing collectively the investor group that acquired GlenAllachie from Chivas Regal in 2017 and has served because the distillery’s Master Blender since then. Over the final 5 years he has orchestrated a exceptional flowering of single malt expressions from GlenAllachie, establishing it as one other up-and-coming distillery.

JM: You’ve spent over 50 years within the Scotch whisky enterprise. Over that interval the business has seen dramatic adjustments within the demand/provide steadiness, the rise of single malts, the emergence of cask ending, the launch of ultra-expensive/ultra-aged single malts, to call only a few. Looking again what adjustments do you suppose had essentially the most impression on the Scotch whisky business and on you personally?

BW: The rise in reputation of single malt Scotch whisky unquestionably challenged the standard considering inside the business. The seeds of this may be traced again to round 2004.

Also essential, has been the change in geo-political and geo-economic circumstances all through the world, with the dynamic power of Asia, and the breakup of the USSR offering many extra alternatives.

From a private standpoint, departing Burn Stewart and getting the chance to amass The BenRiach Distillery was a life changer. It allowed the staff to place their very own stamp on the distillery, proper as the recognition and curiosity in single malt was starting to develop.

Of course, the next acquisition of GlenDronach offered a terrific prospect to showcase the standard of this gem. GlenGlassaugh represented a extra long-term mission, which we sadly didn’t get the chance to see by means of earlier than promoting the distillery in 2016.

JM: Historically, GlenAllachie was earmarked primarily for the assorted Chivas Regal expressions. Since you acquired the distillery in 2017, you’ve got shifted its focus to single malts, releasing a number of age statements in addition to a lot of cask completed expressions. What else can we count on from GlenAllachie each when it comes to age statements and revolutionary cask finishes? How’s your stock of extra-old whiskies? Can we count on something older than the 30 YO cask power launch?

BW: The actuality is, exterior of a small handful, the vast majority of malt whisky distilleries had been used to help massive, blended Scotch whisky manufacturers.

When offered with the chance to amass GlenAllachie, in fact we grabbed it with each arms. It fitted our mannequin completely; it had not but been uncovered to the market and was primarily a clean canvas prepared for the event of a model and core vary. We additionally had been lucky to inherit a big stock with the acquisition, together with casks courting again so far as 1978.

Our major focus was to know the character of GlenAllachie and to introduce a wooden administration program, which might see the DNA of the model grow to be a ‘sherry style’ single malt.

The stock has allowed us to realize the primary stage of our ambitions with a core vary that features a 10-year-old Cask Strength, 12-year-old, 15-year-old, 18-year-old, 21-year-old Cask Strength, and 30-year-old Cask Strength. These expressions are supported by quite a lot of each fortified wine and wine finishes, in addition to some imaginative virgin oak finishes.

JM: GlenAllachie malt has an attention-grabbing profile. On the one hand it’s a traditional, fruit ahead Speyside whisky nevertheless it additionally provides advanced natural, peaty and different natural notes. On the opposite, in some ways, it’s a throwback to the standard Speyside malts of fifty years in the past. How would you describe the character of GlenAllachie? Are you going to proceed on this monitor or are you planning to vary the aroma and style profile?

BW: We are very comfy with the flavour and organoleptic profile we’re growing for GlenAllachie.

The wooden administration program will take the essential structural traits of GlenAllachie distillate (orchard fruit, crimson berries, vanilla, toffee, citrus and natural notes) and introduce the affect of the sherry casks (raisins, darkish chocolate, mocha, treacle, plums and cherries).

Additionally, we’ve decreased the manufacturing output to circa 500,000 liters of alcohol each year (regardless of having capability to provide 4 million LOA), which has allowed us to maneuver to an extended fermentation interval of round 160 hours, and we’re assured that this may deliver some attention-grabbing extra flavour growth within the new make spirit.

JW: Single proprietor distilleries just like the GlenAllachie have gotten a rarity in Scotland. Of the 130+ Scotch whisky distilleries in Scotland, little greater than a dozen are single owned. How does a distillery like GlenAllachie compete in a whisky world more and more dominated by multinational beverage giants?

BW: Of course, on the face of it, it could seem troublesome to finish in a whisky world more and more dominated my multinational giants. We function in a distinct footprint; we have interaction solely with personal impartial importers and distributors, and we goal a educated, knowledgeable shopper. So successfully we’re not tiptoeing into the territory of the large boys.

JM: If you had to decide on one GlenAllachie Scotch whisky as your “desert island” whisky, which wouldn’t it be and why would you select that one particularly?

BW: This would undoubtably must be GlenAllachie 15-year-old. For me, the notes of heather honey, ginger, mocha, ripe figs and candy spices are merely irresistible!

JM: Thank you.

Below are tasting notes on the present GlenAllachie core vary.

The GlenAllachie 10 YO, Batch 6, Cask Strength, 57.8% ABV, 750 ml

The GlenAllachie 10 YO Batch 6, launched in August 2021, is the most recent bottling in a collection of cask power choices produced by The GlenAllachie distillery. This specific collection has gained quite a few awards in worldwide competitions, together with World’s Best Single Malt on the 2021 World Whisky Awards and a Gold Medal on the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The GlenAllachie Batch 6 expression is matured primarily in a mixture of Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, together with a small variety of virgin oak casks and barrels that beforehand held Rioja wine from Spain.

The whisky options pronounced sherry influences with notes of candy honey, darkish chocolate, espresso, toasted almonds, cinnamon and candied orange zest, bordering on recent marmalade. The end is lengthy and flavorful with lingering, sherry influenced, dried fruit notes and a slight grapefruit-like bitterness.

The GlenAllachie, 10 YO, Rye Wood Finish, 48% ABV, 750 ml

The rye wooden end expression is matured in barrels of American oak after which re-racked into casks that beforehand held rye whisky from Kentucky. The rye casks are closely charred and together with the residual rye within the barrels give the whisky a richer and spicier twist.

The Rye Wood expression has the attribute fruitiness of The GlenAllachie with its attribute candy honey and butterscotch notes, together with candied orange zest and marmalade, however the nutmeg, clove and cinnamon notes are rather more pronounced.

The GlenAllachie, 11 YO, Grattamacco Wine Cask Finish, 48% ABV, 750 ml

Grattamacco is an iconic Italian vineyard within the Bolgheri space of Tuscany. The area is the birthplace of Tuscan’s “Super Tuscan” wines.

The whisky is matured for 9 years in barrels of ex-bourbon American oak, adopted by an extra two years in casks that beforehand held Grattamacco wine. The wine casks add distinctive notes of stone fruit to the classis GlenAllachie fruit ahead profile. In addition to the distinctive peach and apricot notes, the whisky additionally provides up notes of crimson berries, caramel and butterscotch, orange marmalade, almonds and spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The GlenAllachie, 12 YO, 46% ABV, 750 ml

The 12 YO is one other GlenAllachie expression that has garnered quite a few gold medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (Gold, 2019, Double Gold 2020, and the International Wines and Spirits Competition (Gold, 95 factors, 2022). It was additionally a Category Winner on the 2022 World Whisky Awards.

It provides up floral notes of dried heather, together with honey, dried fruit notes of raisins, date and figs. There are extra flavors of orange marmalade, butterscotch and cinnamon, together with expresso and milk chocolate notes.

The GlenAllachie 12 YO, Ruby Port Wood Finish, 48% ABV, 750 ml

The Ruby Port Wood Finish expression was matured for 10 years in barrels of American oak earlier than being re-racked for 2 extra years of maturation into barrels (pipes) that beforehand held Ruby Port.

The Port cask affect provides the whisky a pronounced crimson hue. Like all GlenAllachie whisky, this expression is bottled with no extra coloring and isn’t chill filtered.

The whisky options the identical dried heather floral aroma, however the fruit notes are extra tropical, that includes banana, mango and melon. There are the anticipated orange peel/marmalade notes together with prune, caramel and candy honey notes. There is a noticeable grape should taste from the Port casks, in addition to spice notes of cinnamon and recent ginger.

The GlenAllachie, 13 YO, Rioja Cask Finish, 48% ABV, 750 ml

This whisky is matured in ex-bourbon barrels of American oak earlier than spending an extra two years in barrels that beforehand held Rioja wine. The ending provides distinctive notes of crimson berries to the same old GlenAllachie aroma and taste profile, together with extra pronounced grape should, almond and orange zest notes.

There is a slight trace of anise, together with notes of golden raisin, some grapefruit and toasted almond.

The GlenAllachie, 15 YO, 46% ABV, 750 ml

The GlenAllachie 15 YO is matured in barrels of American oak however undergoes a ending interval in casks that beforehand held Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez (PX) Sherry. PX is a kind of sherry constituted of partially rasinated grapes. It’s thick and viscous and imparts pronounced flavors of raisin, date and fig to the ensuing whisky.

The 15 YO has the traditional Christmas cake/pudding notes of sherry cask, particularly PX cask, maturation. It provides up notes of figs, golden raisins and dates, together with candied cherry and darkish chocolate. There are the anticipated candy honey notes, together with caramel and spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger.

The whisky is easy and satiny within the mouth with a pronounced palate weight. It’s comparable stylistically to the 12 YO GlenAllachie however rather more concentrated and intense. The end is exceptionally lengthy with a nuanced layering of dried fruit notes and a barely savory notice on the finish. The 15 YO is about $30 greater than the 12 YO. Given a alternative, I’d go for the 15 YO over the 12 YO any day.

The GlenAllachie, 1989, 29 YO Sherry Single Cask #100051, 56.9% ABV, 750 ml

The 29 YO expression is a single butt, cask power providing. This is one other ongoing collection bottled by the distillery. Cask # 100051 is the most recent bottling. There are vital variations between the completely different cask bottlings, so ensure you’re deciding on the correct cask bottling.

This is an exceptionally easy whisky, with a dozen gold medals from varied worldwide competitions to its credit score, exactly what you’ll count on from a whisky that spent 29 years in a single Oloroso sherry butt. It provides up a pronounced palate weight with a satiny mouth coating texture. This is a single barrel choice, hand-picked by Master Distiller Billy Walker from the greater than 50,000 casks throughout 16 onsite warehouses on the distillery. Approximately 500 bottles had been produced.

The whisky provides up sherry influenced fruit notes of golden raisin, fig and date, together with notable tropical and citrus fruit notes. There are extra caramel and butterscotch notes in addition to spice notes of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger.

The GlenAllachie, 30 YO, 48.9% ABV, 750 ml

The 30 YO GlenAllachie is the oldest expression in its core vary. Like its youthful siblings, the whisky is matured in a mixture of Oloroso and PX Sherry casks, together with a small variety of oak casks constituted of Chinquapin virgin oak. Approximately 2,000 bottles had been produced.

It provides up the wealthy notes of Christmas cake/pudding flavors related to Oloroso and PX Sherry cask maturation. In specific, raisin, date, fig and prune, together with milk chocolate, marzipan, espresso, honey, orange marmalade. There are extra spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and a little bit of coconut.

This is a wonderful whisky. At a mean value of round $600, it isn’t low-cost, however nonetheless represents an distinctive worth.

GlenAllachie has an excellent core vary with scores of extra particular bottlings being launched. This is definitely an up-and-coming distillery, one which, below Billy Walker’s deft hand, is blazing new floor. Certainly, a distillery whose wares are price sampling.


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