The GlenAllachie has added a trio of limited-edition single malt Scotches to its Virgin Oak Series. The new tranche of whiskies includes the 8-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish, the 7-year-old Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish, and the 10-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish.
The GlenAllachie’s Virgin Oak Series explores the impact of oak provenance, terroir, and genus on flavor development during the whisky maturation process. ‘Virgin oak’ refers to wood that has not previously been used to age any other wine or spirit; thus, the influence it has on the whisky is that of the oak alone.
The three unusual cask types were obtained by Scotch whisky industry stalwart Billy Walker who has built a reputation, during his half-century-long career, for peerless wood innovation.
To create the triad of new whiskies, the spirit was first matured in American Oak (Quercus Alba) ex-Bourbon Barrels before undergoing a finishing period of approximately 18 months in the different oak varieties.
The 8-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish enjoyed secondary aging in Sessile Oak (Quercus Petraea) sourced from the Atlantic coast of Scotland. Scottish oak is rarely used for cask production due to its tendency to knot as it grows, creating challenges in crafting staves; its porosity, boosting the chances of leakages; and its pronounced scarcity, commanding a high price. Before being filled, the wood was naturally air-dried for 36 months, allowing for further development of flavor characteristics, then toasted and charred to a medium level.
Golden Sunset in color, the GlenAllachie 8-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish bursts with aromas of baked oats, butterscotch, and toffee, with notes of cinnamon, gingersnaps, and heather honey. The palate delivers lashings of heather honey, orchard fruits, and lemon zest, followed by white chocolate, cinnamon, and ginger, with toffee and butterscotch on the finish. It is priced at £65.99.
The 7-year-old Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish underwent an 18-month-long stint in Quercus Petraea from the Zemplén forest in the mountains of northeast Hungary. A highly unusual oak type for Scotch whisky maturation, The GlenAllachie are among the first producers to experiment with the use of virgin Hungarian wood. The rocky volcanic soil, along with the colder climate and higher altitude in which it grows, means trees in the area grow very slowly, developing tighter grain: a desirable trait for aging spirit.
The GlenAllachie 7-year-old Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish offers aromas of butterscotch, citrus, and milk chocolate, with notes of cinnamon, raisins, orchard fruits, and ginger. The palate features lashings of heather honey and cinnamon, followed by chocolate, lemon drops, and caramelized brown sugar. It is priced at £62.99.
The 10-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish used hogsheads made of Quercus Robur from the Spanish Cantabrian mountains with a cool yet humid climate. The oak was dried in open air for 18 months, then subsequently toasted and charred, to open up the pores for flavor extraction by the whisky.
Mahogany in color, the GlenAllachie 10-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish features lashings of orchard fruits, baking spices, and sticky toffee pudding on the nose, with notes of brown sugar, glazed cherries, and citrus. The palate bursts with chocolate, coffee, and heather honey, followed by notes of pepper, ginger and molasses, with banana and sultanas on the finish. It is priced at £69.99.
All three of the single malts were bottled at a strength of 48% ABV, without added coloring or chill filtration.
“Virgin oak of varying provenance presents endless possibilities to me as a whisky maker,” said Walker. “Exploring a variety of oak types, toasting and charring the casks to particular levels, and then closely observing the spirit development over time has been a truly joyful experience.
“These three new bottlings embody the range of flavors offered by oaks of different origins. From the Scottish, expect notes of biscuit, pear and gingerbread; the Hungarian boasts waves of lemon juice, cinnamon and raisins; and the Spanish oak has imparted bursts of toffee sauce and ripe banana. Each is as uniquely enticing as the last.”
The GlenAllachie’s new Virgin Oak Finishes and the 10-year-old Cask Strength Batch 9 will begin hitting shelves from today, with global specialist retailers receiving stock in the coming weeks.
For more information, head over to the brand’s official website.
In January, the GlenAllachie the 2012 Vintage Cuvée Wine Cask Finish. The 9-year-old Scotch marries single malt finished in casks that previously held four types of premium European red wine: Languedoc, Recioto Della Valpolicella and two undisclosed Premier Cru Classés.