While rumbling through my sample drawer, I came across one from a hand-filled GlenAllachie distillery exclusive. It was gifted to me last year during Spirit of Speyside by the ever-generous Juliette Buchan, who I first met when she worked for Gordon & MacPhail, but she’s currently being the best of brand ambassadors for GlenAllachie.
I’ve so many happy memories of last year’s Spirit of Speyside, my quick visit to GlenAllachie and the warm welcome I received certainly being one of them. But talking about the festival feels bittersweet right now, as this year’s edition has been cancelled because of all that’s currently going on in the world. I don’t want to be a downer, but that’s just the way this situation makes me feel about a lot of things.
Nevertheless, I relish the opportunity to relive my Spirit of Speyside experience, even for a little bit. Officially this GlenAllachie matured in a Marsala cask, but we’re probably talking about a finish. I can’t imagine the previous owners filling their new make into an ex-Marsala barrel. No, this has Billy Walkers finger prints all over it.
One last note: the above picture is purely for illustrative purposes. It looks pretty much the same, but is actually from a bottling of a sister cask.
GlenAllachie 2008 10 Years Marsala (58.2%, OB, C#592)
Nose: An overpowering sweetness with lots of honey, mead and dark caramel notes. Some beeswax too, as well as a fair amount of oak, followed by soft spices like cinnamon, but also a tinge of menthol and tobacco. Certainly an attack of the senses. Taste: There’s a thick layer of fortified wine sweetness that needs to be penetrated to get to the core of this GlenAllachie, which is hard to reach actually. There’s not much left of the original spirit. Slightly peppery, honeyed and with jammy fruits. Finish: Lingering sweetness, tannins, oak. Long.
This is such a difficult whisky to score. The palate lacks integration and balance, two characteristics that I deem to be key in good whisky. But it is rich and flavourful, which I know is something that agrees with the tastes of many people.
Nevertheless, I just can’t in good conscience give this a high score, so I’ve decided to stick it in the average category.