In March 2023 GlenAllachie distillery revealed a new trio of limited editions in its Virgin Oak Series. I believe this is Batch 3. It includes whisky matured in classic ex-bourbon casks, finished for approximately 18 months in virgin oak from Scotland, Hungary (both Quercus Petraea) and Spain (Quercus Robur). The series sets out to explore the impact of oak provenance and genus.
GlenAllachie is often using virgin oak to boost a certain whisky, e.g. the Cask Strength also uses virgin oak in the mix.
GlenAllachie 7 yo – Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish (46%, OB 2023)
Nose: dusty cereals and citrus zest up front, hesitating between freshness and a more rustic side. Hints of dough and ginger, as well hints of milk chocolate and Twix that I didn’t expect. Then some nutmeg and lightly fragrant woody notes.
Mouth: still a tad musty, but also nicely oily. There’s brown sugar and milk chocolate again, but also a rather plain woody side. Fresh oak shavings really. White pepper and ginger. Then some lemon notes and a mildly bitter edge appears.
Finish: quite long. The wood leaves more room to the citrusy notes again, with the spices in second row.
A highly unusual oak type for Scotch whisky maturation – The GlenAllachie claims they are among the first to experiment with it. The trees grow slowly and develop a tighter grain. Not bad, but there’s a dusty side to the whisky that makes this my least favourite. Available from The Whisky Exchange or TyndrumWhisky for instance.
GlenAllachie 8 yo – Scottish Virgin Oak Finish (46%, OB 2023)
Nose: more honeycomb and vanilla this time, as well as peaches and citrus on a second level. Baked apple sweetness with hints of caramel. Clearly richer and sweeter, although there’s an earthy and spicy note as well.
Mouth: not that far away from the Hungarian oak now. It highlights latte and caramel toffee but also brings out more cinnamon and pepper. Over time it gets thinner, quite dry and really spicy. It is quite obvious that the wood is quickly taking over each of these whiskies, especially in this version.
Finish: quite long, on pepper, ginger and other wood spice. Hints of liquorice and a mild caramel note.
Scottish oak is also rarely used because of its porosity. The flavours are clearly recognizable as virgin wood, with a nice nose but also a thinner body and a firm, spicy footprint. Available from Master of Malt or Royal Mile Whiskies for instance. Score: 83/100
GlenAllachie 10 yo – Spanish Virgin Oak Finish (46%, OB 2023)
Nose: we’re going towards cedar wood now, with a leathery touch and light hints of char. The woody side is warmer and more exotic, in a way. Hazelnuts alongside vanilla, Mon Chéri sweets and orange peels. Cinnamon notes as well. This is the most complex version – my favourite nose of the series.
Mouth: an oily, almost polished woody profile now. Certainly more nutty notes than in the other two, but also (even) more spice. Plenty of nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. A light tobacco note too, with hints of coffee and some clear tannins.
Finish: quite long, on cocoa, chilli and cinnamon, with flashes of orange peels.
I found this Spanish oak version (wood from Cantabria up North) the most interesting. Unlike a sherry cask from this wood type, it was toasted and charred. Although the tannins are starting to get loud on the palate, it is nicely warming and you really get some unique elements from this wood type. Available from The Whisky Exchange or TyndrumWhisky for instance. Score: 85/100