GlenAllachie Wine Cask Series: Grattamacco, Sauternes & Rioja
Billy Walker is certainly a master of maturation. He understands the influence of casks like few others and has build a career on it. He has experimented with all kinds of cask types throughout his career, including the last few years at GlenAllachie. Now he’s added another chapter to his book with the GlenAllachie Wine Cask Series, which includes single malts finished in Grattamacco, Sauternes and Rioja casks.
Each of the three whiskies is bottled at 48 percent, which seems to be quite the sweet point — a term Walker is quite fond of. Roughly around 6000 bottles are available per expression. I’ll give you a preview of what to expect with my tasting notes below, but next week you’ll also be able to follow along with the GlenAllachie’s virtual event and online tasting with Billy Walker. Tasting packs are all sold out, but it’s recommended viewing anyway, because I’m willing to bet they’ll drop quite a few nuggets of knowledge.
GlenAllachie 11 Years Grattamacco Finish (48%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Notes of strawberry compote and Maraschino cherries, but also touches of milk chocolate, toffee and orange juice. A whiff of melted butter also.
Taste: Oily mouthfeel and a somewhat spicy arrival with cinnamon and cracked black peppercorns. Followed by sweet red fruits (the strawberries make an encore), tinned peaches and bitter orange peel.
Finish: Lingering spices like nutmeg. Oak as well. Medium in length. Slightly grassy too.
Quite a wine-y whisky, which is to be expected. The GlenAllachie 11 Years Grattamacco Finish is sometimes a little thin on the nose at times, but rather rich and big on the palate.
GlenAllachie 12 Years Sauternes Finish (48%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Honey and beeswax with juicy white grapes, powdered sugar and cotton candy, as well as caramel-glazed apples and peaches. A hint of chalk in the background.
Taste: Creamy and velvet-y, there’s plenty of lovely fruits like pineapple, apricots and whiffs of bitter grapefruit, but also a good amount of nutmeg, musty oak and white pepper.
Finish: Touches of lemon pith, roasted peanuts and spices. Long.
The spicy oak is just a little too dominant on the palate, otherwise the GlenAllachie 12 Years Sauternes Finish is a lovely sweet, fruity single malt.
GlenAllachie 13 Years Rioja Finish (48%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Just a touch of struck matches, but it quickly disappears. Creamy also. Mainly dark red berries and sweet paprika powder, as well as toffee, Werther’s Original and a bit of almond paste and butter. Finally some cocoa powder.
Taste: Some coffee grounds and toasted oak, but also black pepper and madeira cake. Whiffs of honey and roasted pineapple, as well as cinnamon sugar and dried apricots, with a whisper of red berries.
Finish: Linger spices, red fruits and mint. Medium in length.
The GlenAllachie 13 Years Rioja Finish has a lovely complexity on the palate with a nice balance between the spicy oak and fruitier notes.
I’ve come to appreciate wine cask finish more in the last year or two. And if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate these offerings from GlenAllachie. They’re all markedly different and showcase the influence of the wine, without ever becoming over the top — although the Grattamacco is close to crossing that line.
Samples provided by GlenAllachie Distillers
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.