In 2019, GlenAllachie distillery celebrated two years under new management with the title Distillery of the Year, presented at the inaugural Scottish Whisky Awards. It is an impressive achievement for a site previously unknown and unloved by the vast majority of whisky drinkers.
GlenAllachie nestles at the foot of Ben Rinnes, close to the village of Aberlour. The distillery was commissioned by MacKinlay McPherson in 1967 in order to provide significant quantities of Speyside malt for use in their MacKinlay’s blend, one of the top selling scotch brands of that time.
The distillery had been in planning for many years. At one point, William Delmé-Evans, designer of Tullibardine and Jura, was employed to work on the project but a difference of opinion saw him depart before construction could begin. Despite the delays, the stills eventually fired up in 1967, and GlenAllachie continued to produce spirit for MacKinlay’s until the company was taken over by Invergordon in 1985. The new owner deemed the distillery surplus to requirements and mothballed it, only to close it down the following year.
The premises were bought by Campbell Distillers in 1989 but Campbell would later become part of Pernod Ricard which saw GlenAllachie become part of their Chivas Brothers business, supplying malt for Chivas Regal and Royal Salute blends.
Thus it remained until Billy Walker, formerly of the BenRiach Distilling Company, decided to take on a new project, acquiring GlenAllachie along with a healthy stock of ageing whisky in 2017. Under this new ownership, GlenAllachie was given a core range of single malt bottlings for the first time, with 10, 12, 18 and 25 year old versions released in July of 2018. Seeking to fill the gap between the 12 and 18 year old expressions however, Walker and his team expanded the range the following year, working with existing stocks in order to create a new 15 year old. Bottled at 46%, it retails around £60.
Smell: Raisins, sultanas… cherry. Dark chocolate and cinnamon. Underneath the sherry there’s apple, floral honey and oak.
Taste: Big sherry arrival with raisins, prunes and maple syrup. Winter spices and wood. Dark chocolate and coffee.
Value for Money: Looks to be reasonably priced when compared with other un-chill-filtered 15 year old malts – I’m thinking along the lines of Springbank (£62) GlenDronach (£62) and Old Pulteney (£68)* Here, your £60 will buy you a rich, sumptuous sherry-forward dram that will linger long in the memory.
A fantastic single malt that brings something a bit different to the GlenAllachie range. I’ve been really enjoying the resurgence of this Speyside distillery. If nothing else, it’s nice to see more whiskies from the area bottled at 46%, something which still seems all too rare. That added strength and un-chill-filtered bottling style has given the dram wonderful weight to go along with its rich sherry character and the eventual outcome is a whisky of intense flavour and satisfying warmth. Very enjoyable.
*Prices checked at Master of Malt.
For more on GlenAllachie, visit here.
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