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The Story of GlenAllachie
GlenAllachie distillery was built in the late 1960s in response to an American-led whisky boom. Born out of a partnership between MacKinley-McPherson, the distilling arm of Scottish and Newcastle Brewers, and renowned designer William Delme-Evans, the distillery was built at the foot of Ben Rinnes near Aberlour, pulling water from the many rain and snow fed streams that flowed down the hillside.
Delme-Evans had previously worked on Tullibardine, Jura and MacDuff distilleries and used all his experience to create a modern gravity-fed process at GlenAllachie. Production commenced in February of 1968 and within six months the site’s capacity had been expanded by the addition of two new stills.
By the 1980s, the popularity of whisky was on the decline. Businesses were closing down and distilleries all over Scotland were falling silent. When MacKinley-McPherson were taken over by Invergordon Distillers, GlenAllachie was deemed surplus to requirements and mothballed.
Bought in 1989 by Campbell Distillers however, the distillery’s fortunes began to turn. The stills were fired up once more on April 24th, beginning 29 years of uninterrupted production. Campbell distillers soon became part of Pernod Ricard, placing GlenAllachie in their Chivas Brothers portfolio.
A new lease of life arrived in 2017 in the form of the newly established ‘GlenAllachie Distillers Company Ltd’, a partnership between Billy Walker, recently of the BenRiach Distillers Company, Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson. In late 2018 they launched a core range onto the market comprising of 10 year old cask strength, 12 year old, 18 and 25 year old expressions. This was followed in May of 2019 by the announcement that the distillery would be opening its doors to the public for the first time in 50 years, perfectly arranged to coincide with the upcoming Spirit of Speyside Festival. Then, in late August this year, details of a new expression were revealed, a 15 year old that would become the latest addition to the core range, filling the gap between the 12 and 18 year old.
Of the early releases, however, the 10 year old is perhaps among the most exciting. Bottled at a meaty 57.1%, it is a natural colour, un-chill filtered and reasonably priced at around £55. Quite the combination.
Smell: Toffee and green fruits. Oatcakes and honey. Grass & straw. Lemon, biscuit and lots of malty notes. More floral honey at the finish.
Taste: Toffee and caramel. Spicy heat from the spirit. Honey & vanilla with buttery pastries and barley sugar. Shortbread. Scottish fudge.
Thoughts: Credit where it’s due, the folks behind GlenAllachie have offered a couple of high quality affordable options in their new range. Personally I believe the 12 is slightly superior to the 10 but this is still a worthwhile addition to any cabinet. A bit of water is beneficial in dealing with the cask strength heat and brings forth more of a typically fruity Speyside character, though it’s hard to imagine another that delivers that character in a more intense way.
With the news of the Billy Walker-led takeover, GlenAllachie became one of the more exciting distilleries in Speyside virtually overnight. It may be early yet, but there is enough promise in their early releases to suggest that such anticipation could be well warranted.
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