There it was… a slightly dull grey December day in Nurnberg… a busy working week that was happily interrupted by a small commitment – an online tasting with many other Germany based enthusiasts with a breath of “virtual” Scottish air with Richard Beattie, Operation Director and Juliette Buchan of GlenAllachie.
The quintet was all lined up – including one specially bottled for Germany:
- GlenAllachie 12 year 46%
- GlenAllachie 15 year 46%
- GlenAllachie 11 year Madeira Barrique Cask bottled for whic.de 60.7%
- GlenAllachie 12 year French Virgin Oak 48%
- GlenAllachie 12 year Marsala Wood Finish 48%
Richard kicked off our evening with two from their core range… deliberately postponing the French Oak until Juliette could join – delayed slightly by COVID travel complications.
So we poured our first glass and our tasting began…
GlenAllachie 12 year 46%
- Colour – Deep mahogany
- Nose – Butterscotch, honey raisin, really heavy mocha, nutty – mostly almonds,
- Palate – Vanilla chocolate, fruits and caramel, heavy with dark chocolate and orange
- Finish – Carried through
- Water – Lightened and brightened the dram – brought out some delightful notes and the palate softened into an indulgent chocolate christmasy ginger snap treat
Overall I found the 12 year really quite rich and robust – with an intensity that mellowed slightly with a generous dash of water.
As we tasted, Richard regaled us with tales of Billy Walker taking over the distillery from Pernod Ricard in 2017. His desire to slow things down, approach to “listening” to what the casks say to him before deciding what to do next… often moving the golden liquid around 3 or 4 times to achieve the desired effect.
GlenAllachie 15 year 46%
- Colour – Also mahogany, just a hint lighter than the 12 year
- Nose – A lovely light caramel and sweet toffee, subtle spices, ripe raisins, chocolate milk and brownies, fruits – particularly cherries and plums
- Palate – Much more powerful than anticipated from the aromas. Full bodied and fabulous! Tropical fruits, mocha and orange peel…. Toffifee with butterscotch, noughat and hazelnuts, silky smooth
- Finish – Gorgeous finish with vanilla oak
- Water – Narry a temptation to add even one drop!
Much more subtle and elegant than the 12 year. Less fire more warmth… simply a delight on the nose and far too easy to sip.
We set it aside and when I came back to revisit – Wow! This really is a lovely dram… something to slow down and simply enjoy.
After such a class act, our hosts shifted gears significantly and plunged straight into a full cask strength Madeira finish. This was selected by the Whic.de folks after an earlier Madeira cask experience… what did we discover with this one?
GlenAllachie 11 year (2009/2021) Madeira Barrique Cask No. 7654 60.7%, bottled for whic.de
- Nose – Curious… and most certainly a significant shift from the 15 year, the Madeira influence was quite clear
- Palate – Peppery spice, robust with rich wine influence, punchy, heavy and not in the least bit shy
- Finish Noughat with a hint of fruit
- Water – For me, an absolute must with this whisky. I found it really opened up the dram, with juicy fruits coming forward
It was described as a hot vacation in a glass – bringing the southern European island character to the fore. Not at all subtle with really strong influence of the Madeira but once you made the adjustment, quite something.
As a sign of the times, distillery tours aren’t possible so the good folks at GlenAllachie put together quite a terrific video which gives a real sense of the team behind the whiskies and their approach.
We continued on with one of GlenAllachie’s “Virgin Oak” expressions – in this case as a nod to Juliette’s French origins, we tasted the French Oak.
GlenAllachie 12 year French Virgin Oak 48%
- Nose – Fresh cut wood, generous heaps of honey, organ blossoms, peach jam
- Palate – Juicy, generous honey, butterscotch, hints of mocha and cinnamon with a citrus twist with sweet wood, complex and delicious
- Finish – Long, with a nice woody bitterness chase by red chilli that added quite a nice element
- Water – No need
Compared with the standard 12 year, the French Oak was considerably more nuanced, all the more entrancing for its restraint. We found it most enjoyable and the honeyed sweetness kept drawing me back.
Juliette shared this whisky first matured in ex-bourbon casks before spending approx 18 months in “Chinkapin” Quercus Robur hogsheads sourced from the Haute-Garonne region close to the Pyrenees.
Juliette explained the other two – Spanish and American virgin oak casks – were quite representative of the character of the different countries from which the virgin oak barrels were sourced.
Our final dram was one of their wood finish series – with a 12 year (rather than 13) which is available exclusively in Germany.
GlenAllachie 12 year Marsala Wood Finish 48%
- Nose – Subtle honey, stewed apples, cinnamon and cream
- Palate – Simply fabulous on the palate, very juicy, bursting with orchard fruits like pears and apples chased by more honey
- Finish – Light yet lovely and long
- Water – Again, no need
I will fully admit, I fell for the experience – hook, line and sinker! Ordering immediately a quartet for an indeterminate future date…Who knows when that will be! However I might shift the tasting order a wee bit… Perhaps starting with the elegant French Oak, then play with the Marsala Wood finish followed by the refined 15 year and powerful 12 year.
Overall, it was a terrific distraction and I was most grateful the tasting was held in English so that I could partake!
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