The GlenAllachie range was relaunched in 2018, after Billy Walker purchased the distillery in 2017. To many people, Billy Walker is the mastermind who made GlenDronach (and BenRiach) famous, with bottles from that distillery having reached unicorn status over the last years. To others, the sentiment is that Billy Walker “inherited” some amazing whisky stocks and has built his reputation on liquid for which he wasn’t around during its original distillation. Regardless of which camp you’re in, I think most whisky drinkers could agree that he has always had a talent for picking and blending the right barrels and bottling some amazing releases.
When the first batches of GlenAllachie were released, I had the chance to try most of their core range and for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a trend where new batches of GlenAllachie releases are much darker, and therefore should have a much more significant sherry influence compared to earlier releases. This is a trend that has kept me very interested, since I am huge fan of heavily sherried whiskies!
This is also what lead to me picking up the newest batch of GlenAllachie 18. It is significantly darker than its predecessor! GlenAllachie 18 Year Old is bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and natural colour. It was matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenes and oloroso sherry casks.
In the glass: Dark caramel in colour, medium viscosity. The liquid coats the glass nicely.
Nose: Delicate dried fruit notes right off the bat. Raisins coated with honey and sweet caramel. With time, the dram opens up and develops more sweet and fresh fruity notes like plum and cherry. There is also a faint citrus note.
Palate: Just as fresh as the nose indicates. The palate mirrors the nose very nicely, but it also introduces layers of sherry spice and sweetness. This is a great showcase of both PX and oloroso sherry flavour profiles. You get the sweet and candied dried fruit notes at first, and then the more savory, rich, nutty and leathery notes at the end.
Finish: Medium and drying finish highlighted by oak and even more spice. (Un)surprisingly easy drinking and it keeps inviting you for more!
This whisky is very pleasant and easily approachable. This would definitely be a crowd pleaser and not a funky sherry bomb that the uninitiated might be scared by. From what I’ve tried so far, I think GlenAllachie seems to have a signature style that is very fruit forward, compared to some older GlenDronach which was much more rich, nutty and sometimes funky. That being said, the increased proportion of sherry casks adds layers of flavour and complexity which I didn’t find in the initial releases.
While it didn’t blow my socks off, I think this is definitely a whisky worth trying and buying, especially if you want to discover how the flavour profile of GlenAllachie has evolved over the last few years. With a multitude of recent and upcoming new releases by the distillery (Virgin oak series, Wine cask series, the increasingly popular 10yr cask strength releases), there will be plenty of opportunities to make a verdict on whether or not they are trending in the right direction. For me, I will definitely be keeping them on my radar and will continue to explore their new and different releases.