Billy Walker, the Master Distiller who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, is releasing a special bottling of limited edition whiskies as his first product launch from the site after examining casks of world-class Scotch in its warehouses.
Having sampled an extensive selection of the distillery’s 40,000 casks, Mr Walker has identified six casks that have been bottled to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17th 1968.
Over 3,500 50cl bottles have been filled as special edition single cask whiskies; 720 for the UK, 2,391 for General Export and 425 for Taiwan – all bottled at cask strength, with prices ranging from £200 to £699.
The single cask bottlings are being released ahead of the launch in June of the full GlenAllachie range, which will mark the first time the distillery has had its own cohesive identity as a brand.
GlenAllachie was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewer Scottish & Newcastle.
Mr Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard.
The distillery has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.
Mr Walker, who sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American producer Brown-Forman in 2016, said: “Even though GlenAllachie is one of the younger distilleries in Scotland, we are very fortunate in that we have casks of whisky stretching back to the early 1970s, in the first years after the site opened.
“The past few months since we bought the distillery and its stock have been so exciting for the whole team. I’ve been able to try samples from some really remarkable casks of Scotch and to study how the spirit has evolved over time.
“I’ve been involved in distilling whiskies for much of my forty-year career in the industry, but I’ve seldom come across such a high-quality collection of casks.”
Mr Walker, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2016 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, added: “GlenAllachie has always been prized as an important blending ingredient, not just by Chivas Brothers but also by other whisky companies, which would buy casks to add to their own blends.
“What’s particularly exciting about these special-edition single cask bottles is that we’ll be able to demonstrate the really high quality of GlenAllachie as a standalone whisky.
“GlenAllachie produces a much more muscular spirit than many of the other distilleries on Speyside and so it works well with lots of different casks, whether they’re American oak barrels and hogsheads or European sherry butts.
“Discovering these hidden gems in the warehouses has given us a great opportunity, not only to give whisky connoisseurs a taste of what’s to come later this year when we launch the full GlenAllachie range, but also to celebrate the half century since this very special distillery first fired up its stills.
“Why wait when it’s ready to be enjoyed by the world?”
Each of the six special-edition single cask bottles has distinctive aromas and flavours:
• 1978, Cask 10296, Sherry Butt, 55.9%: A rush of raisins, dark chocolate and spices, followed by hints of orange peel and liquorice.
• 1989, Cask 986, Sherry Butt, 57.7%: A galaxy of sultanas, pineapple and plum pudding, with hints of spices and orange peel.
• 1989, Cask 2587, Hogshead, 45.4%: The melange of dark cherries, bananas and orange peel develops into dark chocolate and rich spices.
• 1990, Cask 2515, Sherry Butt, 44.9%: Rich sherry and raisin presence, with a supporting cast of dark chocolate, grapefruit and spices.
• 1990, Cask 2517, Sherry Butt, 54.6%: The amazing flavour rainbow of raisins, bananas, sweet cloves and pineapples extends to orange peel and dark chocolate.
• 1991, Cask 100285, Hogshead, 55%: Wonderful notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and hazelnuts as the lead players with hints of dark chocolate, mocha and spices.