Reviews of interesting whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
The GlenAllachie Distillery is enjoying something of a renaissance at present. A fact highlighted by the many intriguing limited-edition bottlings that have hit the market in recent years. The subject of this review is one such bottling, the GlenAllachie Pedro Ximenez Finish, no less. Things weren’t always as comfortable for GlenAllachie, though.
GlenAllachie is young, in Scotch whisky terms, having been founded in the latter half of the 1960s. Things were going well for the whisky industry, with the likes of Glenfiddich pushing its single malt as a luxury product for the first time. The boom was short-lived, however. By the late 1970s and early 80s, white spirits like Vodka had soared in popularity. That fact, combined with several other factors, caused a dramatic fall in sales but distillers, through bad planning or miscommunication or some other catastrophic error of judgement, had carried on producing at full pelt. The industry soon found itself with significantly more stock than it could sell. The situation became known as the Whisky Loch and several distilleries were forced to close as a result.
It was not a happy time in Scotch. GlenAllachie was taken over by Charlie MacKinlay & Co, part of Scottish and Newcastle Breweries and the decision to mothball came as something of a shock to the staff. Harry Lawrie of the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union was quoted in the Aberdeen Press & Journal of Saturday 19 October 1985: “The takeover itself came as a surprise to us but the closure and redundancies were even more of a shock. There was never any communication with this union by the employers prior to them making their decision. The first information we received was after the event and was from the shop stewards at the distillery. That can only be described as shoddy treatment.”
Fortunately, the closure wasn’t permanent. By 1989, the industry was showing signs of recovery and GlenAllachie had been taken over by Campbell Distillers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. The Press & Journal reported: “The deal is further evidence of the upturn in the fortunes of the Speyside whisky industry since the recession of the early and mid-80s which saw massive cutbacks in production, distillery closures, job losses and short-time working.”
Under the ownership of Pernod Ricard, however, GlenAllachie only produced intermittently and the spirit was used exclusively for various blended Scotch brands. Then, in 2017, Pernod struck an agreement with Billy Walker. The former owner of BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh, partnered with Graham Stevenson, former Inver-House MD and Trisha Savage, a veteran with more than 30 years in the whisky industry. Under the newly formed GlenAllachie Consortium, the distillery found a new lease of life and a full single malt range was released in 2018.
GlenAllachie Pedro Ximenez Finish
The GlenAllachie Pedro Ximenez* Finish is an 11-year-old single malt bottled at 48%. Released in 2021, it retailed for around £60.
Pedro Ximenez is an intensely sweet, dark sherry, made from the grape variety of the same name.
Smell: Lots of Christmas Cake notes. Prune juice. Raisins. Sultanas. Cherry. Even some cranberry. Black forest gateaux! New leather. Dark chocolate. Chocolate cake. Oak. Wee barbecued char note.
Taste: Lots of dried fruits to the fore. Raisins, currants… some gentle wintery spices as well. Nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise. Orange zest. Rich, dark chocolate. Toffee and burnt caramel.
Thoughts: Leans towards the fruity, rather than the oaky side of PX. It actually has a very festive feel with all the dried fruits and winter spices. There’s a lovely mouthfeel, with lots of natural oils coating the mouth and I’m pleased with that bottling strength of 48%, it delivers plenty of flavour without the over-the-top intensity you sometimes get from cask strength bottlings. I suppose it’s not really a surprise that Billy Walker knows what he’s doing with sherry casks.
Price: £60. Not bad at all. It’s bottled at a decent strength, and carries an age statement… and it’s delicious. Good buy.
For more on The GlenAllachie visit here: https://theglenallachie.com/
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