After the roller coaster that was the Blind Tasting Competition, it’s finally time to pick up my regular reviewing schedule. I’ve a bit of a backlog, which is why I didn’t review the latest WhiskyNerds release earlier. They’re one of my favourite bottlers (this Springbank is fucking up there!), but I’m not sure what they’re up to now. Why would you bottle an Allt-a-Bhainne 1997 23 Years?
Bram and Floris, the WhiskyNerds in question, have shown before they’re not afraid of picking an unknown commodity. Most notably the trio of Inchmurrin they bottled years ago, before it became fashionable to like Loch Lomond. But Allt-a-Bhainne? It’d be generous to call it a second tier distillery. It’s rarely bottled as a single malt, although that might have something to do with availability as well.
I’ve only reviewed one other Allt-a-Bhainne—which was actually pretty nice—and can’t remember to have tasted many more. I mainly know it as the distillery I drive past when taking the B9009 from Glenlivet to Dufftown. I’m always surprised when it pops into view, because I usually forget it’s there.
But enough bashing of Allt-a-Bhainne. Because did it ever really get a chance? There’s barely any official bottlings out there and so far in 2020 only seven single casks have been bottled by the independents (according to Whiskybase). And the WhiskyNerds have showcased many times over that they are very capable of picking fantastic single malts. I should have some more faith probably.
Allt-a-Bhainne 1997 23 Years (52.4%, WhiskyNerds, C#102589)
Nose: Sweet, menthol and chalky makes for an interesting combination. I get red apple skin, apfelstrudel and a whiff of nectarine. A touch of honey too, as well as sweethearts (the candy) and even some breakfast tea. Very pleasant. Taste: An oily mouthfeel, followed by a slightly spicy arrival (white pepper mainly). Fairly fruity, but not overtly so. A hint of peach and nectarine, as well as clementines. Touches of polished oak too, underpinned by gingerbread. Finish: Medium. Sweet barley water and a light fruitiness.
A hell of a gamble by the WhiskyNerds. But this Allt-a-Bhainne 1997 is a good and unexpected whisky nonetheless. Now, whether you’re willing to pay the retail price is another matter entirely.