The GlenAllachie Distillery has added three new bottlings to their Virgin Oak Series, a limited-edition range which explores the influence of aging whisky in a variety of different oak species from around the world. The new tranche of expressions consists of three Speyside Single Malts: the 15-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish, the 10-year-old French Virgin Oak Finish, and the 10-year-old Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish.
The differences in flavor between the three bottlings are led by a variety of factors: the oak species, the local terroir, and the period of natural air drying, along with the toasting, charring, and coopering of the casks.
The Virgin Oak Series showcases the cask sourcing and wood management skills of Master Distiller Billy Walker. Each expression was first matured in American Oak (Quercus Alba) ex-Bourbon Barrels. The whisky then underwent a secondary maturation period of approximately 18 months in virgin oak casks.
The GlenAllachie 15-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak (£175) is one of the few whiskies to ever be matured in Scottish oak – was finished in casks made of Sessile Oak (Quercus Petrae) sourced from the Atlantic coast of Scotland. Scottish oak is incredibly challenging to work with at all stages of production: growing, milling, and coopering. Its rarity, costliness and tendency to knot mean it is scarcely used for whisky maturation.
Before hosting the GlenAllachie spirit, the wood was air dried for 36 months. After toasting and charring to a medium level, the small quantity of casks used delivered just 2,250 bottles of exceptional liquid.
Arriving in a Golden Sunset color, the whisky’s nose bursts with honeycomb, vanilla pods, and citrus fruits, alongside butterscotch, orange zest and white chocolate. The palate features lashings of heather honey, caramelized pine nuts, cinnamon, and toffee, followed by orange peel, lemon zest, banana and ginger.
For the GlenAllachie 10-year-old French Virgin Oak Finish (£61.99), Walker sourced casks made of French Oak (Quercus Robur) from the Haute-Garonne region, close to the Pyrenees. The fine-grained, consistent wood was air dried for 15 months before being filled with the whisky.
Golden Bronze in color, the Scotch delivers waves of orange peel, heather honey, and soft spice, followed by caramel, orchard fruits, and mocha. The palate offers layers of heather honey, mocha, and brittle toffee, with grapefruit, cinnamon, earthy tannins and notes of ginger on the finish.
The GlenAllachie 10-year-old Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish (£61.99) used wood from the Northern Ozark region of Missouri in the United States. Once air dried for nearly four years and toasted to a medium level, the casks made of Chinquapin – a sub species of Quercus Alba – have bestowed distinctive spicy, biscuity notes upon The GlenAllachie.
Rich Bronze in color, the whisky delivers aromas of orange zest, heather honey, and pecan, with notes of butterscotch, nutmeg, and liquorice. The palate features cinnamon, barley sugar, and toasted biscuits, followed by rose hips, orange peel, and heather honey.
All three whiskies come in at 48% ABV.
“Exploring the interaction of virgin oak with our whisky has become a real passion of mine over the last few years, and I feel it’s something that we are really specialising in,” said Walker. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I am devoted to wood management and sourcing unusual casks, but I believe virgin oak is underexposed in the Scotch whisky industry; something we are eager to change.
“This expansion of our Virgin Oak Series showcases three superb Single Malts, each with incredibly unique attributes. I’m particularly proud to release a very rare Scottish Virgin Oak bottling; a long-held ambition of mine, with full appreciation of how challenging and expensive it is to work with. The result, in my humble opinion, is genuinely outstanding.”
The new GlenAllachie Virgin Oak Series bottlings are available via specialist retailers globally.
For more information, head over to the distillery’s official website.
Earlier this month, The GlenAllachie launched the latest installment of its 10-year-old Single Malt: The GlenAllachie 10-Year-Old Cask Strength Batch 7.