This week's review focuses on an 18 Years Old expression from a distillery which not many people would have heard of, let alone sampled. Glenallachie distillery is one of the workhorses within the Chivas Brothers (and by extension, Pernod Ricard) stable of distilleries which produce bulk whisky for the company's various blends.
But that doesn't mean that the distillery produce isn't able to stand up and be counted.
Glenallachie distillery was founded in 1967 by MacKinlay, McPherson & Co., which was a subsidiary of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd. The distillery was designed by famed architect William Delme Evans, who was able to fulfill a lifelong ambition by designing a gravity fed distillery.
The distillery remained under the same ownership until 1985, when it was sold to Invergordon Distillers along with the Isle of Jura distillery. The distillery remained in limbo for another 2 years before being decommissioned by Invergordon Distillers in 1987.
After a further 2 years of silence, the distillery was then sold in 1989 to Campbell Distillers, which was a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. This acquisition breathed new life into the distillery and production restarted at Glenallachie, but not until two further stills were installed in order to increase the overall production capacity.
Campbell Distillers themselves were a company with a rich history and their blended Scotch whisky brand, Clan Campbell, is one of the top selling brands in France. The distillery itself is overshadowed by neighbouring Aberlour in terms of size and stature, but it is no slouch.
The Clan Campbell brand was introduced in the 1930s by Samuel Rosenbloom, who had formed a blending company under the name of House of Campbell. He even went as far as changing his surname to Campbell in order to give further legitimacy to the company.
House of Campbell and Clan Campbell remained under the control of the Campbell family until 1974, when it was sold to Pernod Ricard by Samuel's son, Arnold. The acquisition of Glenallachie 15 years after helped to bring both the distillery and the brand together and Glenallachie is one of the key malts within the Clan Campbell brand today.
In terms of equipment, the distillery sports a 9.4 tonne semi-lauter mash tun, 6 washbacks made of mild steel but lined with stainless steel as well as 2 further washbacks which were brought in from the now demolished Caperdonich distillery, 2 lantern-shaped wash stills and 2 onion-shaped spirit stills.
This setup has allowed the distillery to produce up to 4 million litres of spirit on an annual basis and the spirit is then filled into predominantly bourbon casks (with some sherry butts in the mix) before being matured on-site in 12 racked and 2 palletised warehouses.
The only official bottling of Glenallachie that is currently available is the 16 Years Old Cask Strength Edition expression which has been matured in first-fill Oloroso casks and was released in 2005. This expression is only available at the Chivas visitor centres and is rather highly sought after.
This week's review focuses on an 18 Years Old expression which was distilled in 1995, matured for 18 years in two bourbon casks, vatted and then bottled at a standard abv of 46% by independent bottler Carn Mor for their Strictly Limited range.
Glenallachie 1995 18 Years Old (46% abv, Bottled by Carn Mor)
Nose: Initial entry is perfumed and fruity, with hints of apricots, pear juice, honey and cinnamon. Slightly alcoholic and also rather mellow, with unripe green fruits, oak and a savoury meatiness which is characteristic of the distillery's house style.
Palate: Sweet, mellow and spicy in equal measure, with the pear juice, cinnamon and honey being present from the start. Black pepper, hints of oak and more of the unripe fruits emerge after some time and are followed by more of that savoury meatiness.
Finish: Relatively long, drying and warming on the finish, with the oak, hints of black pepper and a fleeting whiff of cinnamon sugar bringing things to a close.
Balance: Fairly sweet on initial entry, but it becomes increasingly spicy towards the end. A very interesting dram from an unheralded and underrated distillery!
This expression of Glenallachie can be found at The Single Cask and is available for purchase by the bottle or the dram for in-bar consumption as well as by the bottle for retail/takeaway purposes. Please approach our friendly bar staff for more information and they will be more than happy to assist you.
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