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Water of Life - GlenAllachie Virgin Oak Series

GlenAllachie is an interesting distillery – interesting in that it had been on the radar for the longest time, but for very superficial reasons, i.e. the branding and theme of the design never tempted me to check it out. Low and behold, upon actually sampling the core range, things changed dramatically, and the 15-year-old expression became a favourite.

Copper in colour, what tickled the nostrils is an array of fruity aromas, heavy on the richer end of the spectrum of the berry front, with a backbone of a caramelly tobacco, a malty earthiness and rounded out by sweet chocolatey highlights, which seemingly transition to what materializes on the top of the mouth, where the Sherry cask finish unfolds its true beauty in terms of sweet berry flavours, raisins, walnuts and a medium length, reverberating finish that is counterpointed and grounded by malty coffee, cherry tinged dry highlights.

Summa summarum, GlenAllachie’s 15-Year-Old infuses the DNA of the distillery’s core range with the attributes that the maturation in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks imparts - highly recommend to anyone who loves rich, flavourful Speyside whiskies.

Giving the nature of GlenAllachie’s core range, I was getting mildly excited when their Virgin Oak Series. Limited in nature, the range of comprised of expressions that have been matured in carefully curated and region specific selected casks from France and Spain, which of course varies as far as flavour notes are concerned, with the fact that all of them have first been matured in American Oak ex-Bourbon barrels being the only common denominator.

The underlying idea behind the approach to the new series was to how far the influence of Virgin Oak from different terroir / climate, varying drying periods and different toasting and charring levels can be taken.

The French Virgin Oak was my first exposure to the series, which I found to be firmly rooted in honey territory - both in terms of flavours and aroma. On the nose, it is complimented by toffee and orangey nutmeg, backed by a finish that ground the experience with tannins and butterscotch.

The Spanish Virgin Oak starts off similarly in terms of a honeyed vantage point, but then ventures further into interestingly spicy dimensions that continue to reverberate throughout.

My favourite of the triumvirate is the Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish, which again takes off from a honeyed plateau to then sore into orangey butterscotch territory and liquorice as far as aromas are concerned. On the palate, syrupy flavours dominate, complemented by spicy cinnamon and floral notes, before the elongated finish marries all flavour nuances to a fulminant finish.

Specifically, with the Virgin Oak series, GlenAllachie’s master distiller, Billy Walker, showcased what is possible with different derivates of casks and imbued the individual expressions with unique characteristics with resulting flavour intensities ranging from high to low and everything in between.

Hopefully, GlenAllachie will continue on this path and continue to branch out into creating unique flavour profiles.

T • November 14, 2020

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