New Whiskies

Batch 106

by
It’s Speyside vs Edinburgh this week as Glenallachie and Glendulland stand up against North British.

With Dave Broom off on his summer hols, this week’s batch of new whisky reviews comes from Scotchwhisky.com editor Becky Paskin, who discovers three alternate personalities of recently-sold Speyside distillery Glenallachie.

First up is a no-age-statement official bottling, one of just a few released in the distillery’s lifetime. Glenallachie Distillery Edition is the distillery’s final bottling from owner Chivas Brothers, which is in the process of selling the Moray site to former BenRiach owner Billy Walker. Sweet, fruity and malty, it’s evocative of first-class baking (something Mary Berry would be proud of).

The following two Glenallachies have both been bottled as eight-year-olds, but couldn’t be more different in style. Duncan Taylor’s expression exudes buckets of distillery character – delicate fruits and malt ­– while North Star Spirits’ take moves in a spicier, more indulgent direction thanks to maturation in a Sherry butt. Three very different sides to one of Speyside’s great, yet mostly unknown, distilleries.

Paskin then moves ever so slightly east towards Dufftown, and an overtly-perfumed Cadenhead bottling of 20-year-old Glendullan, which she finds rich and full-bodied, having spent eight years ‘finishing’ in a Château Lafitte wine cask.

Finishing the round are two independently-bottled expressions from Edinburgh grain distillery North British. First up is a sweet and spicy, yet disappointingly rubbery, 25-year-old from Duncan Taylor, which evokes memories of sneak-eating birthday cake.

Finally, a 21-year-old North British from North Star Spirits takes on a decidedly toasty, fruity, yet vanilla-centric character, teasing out a playful side to the Lowland distillery.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glenallachie Distillery Edition

    Glenallachie Distillery Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Dusty malt and oaky vanilla. There’s a soft quality akin to a blended Scotch, then the signature Glenallachie fruit: red apples, pineapple leaf, unripe banana. 

    Palate

    Fruity, but the oak dominates. Vanilla takes over (Madeira cake), alongside a soft background layer of spice. 

    Finish

    Soft and spicy, but bitter and thin.

    Conclusion

    It’s an easy drinker – sweet, soft and smooth. A perfect beginner malt, particularly for £20 a bottle.

    Right place, right time

    Mary Berry’s (whisky-laced) Victoria sponge jostles with Paul Hollywood’s apple pie for first prize at the bake-off.

    Glenallachie 8 Years Old (Duncan Taylor)

    Glenallachie 8 Years Old (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A zingy and light fruit salad of a dram. Fresh fruits dominate – think lemon zest, mango and lychee – but are peppered with green/yellow Starburst, Skittles and pear drops. 

    Palate

    It’s refreshing and vibrant, the tropical fruits taking a turn toward green apple skin. Bitter, charred oak and malt grist provide weight and some dryness, as deeper vanilla tones deliver the bassline. 

    Finish

    Dry and long.

    Conclusion

    A beautiful example of Glenallachie’s delicate, fruity distillery character.

    Right place, right time

    One of your five-a-day, a practical source of Vitamin C. 

    Glenallachie 8 Years Old (North Star Spirits)

    Glenallachie 8 Years Old (North Star Spirits)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Warming toasted oak and wood spice tones, complemented by lush forest fruits, before more delicate fruits – sherbet lemons, candied pineapple. It’s also a touch prickly, with some crystallised ginger and cinnamon peeking in toward the end.

    Palate

    The spiciness practically bops you on the nose, as an undercurrent of black tea leaves and blackcurrant jam on wholemeal toast moves in and takes control. Lighter and bitter fruit notes ­– dried citrus peel, orange pith – pick up the rear.

    Finish

    Surprisingly soft and delicate, considering the aforementioned spice. A little smoke carries it on.

    Conclusion

    The Sherry butt used has taken Glenallachie in a rounded, luscious direction. Is this really only eight years old? At 58.3% abv it can take water well.

    Right place, right time

    ‘What about second breakfast?’ asked Pippin. 

    Glendullan 20 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Glendullan 20 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Extremely perfumed – the banana skin, cooked peaches and rose petal practically leap out of the glass; a surprising combination. It calms after a moment in the glass, revealing richly caramelised tarte tatin, vanilla, toffee and soft baking spice. Cigar tobacco wafts by. 

    Palate

    It’s a bitter start, then soft fruits and tannic red wine. A rush of dark spices suddenly evolves into a rich, warming, full-bodied and intensely fruity palate. Becomes slightly rubbery with water, so don’t add it.

    Finish

    The richness subsides gradually (very gradually), carried by soft smoke.

    Conclusion

    An intense cigar malt, with layers of fruit and spice built by spending eight years in a Château Lafitte cask. 

    Right place, right time

    In deep reflection as the sun sets over Bordeaux rooftops.

    North British 25 Years Old (Duncan Taylor)

    North British 25 Years Old (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.6%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Quite closed from the off, but time coaxes out dark, rich fruit, such as grape must and prunes. Dark sugary treats emerge as it warms – muscovado sugar, molasses and dark treacle, rounded off with amaretti biscuits dusted with icing sugar. There’s a sulphury undertone.

    Palate

    Thick and spicy. Caramelised (burnt) sugar, spicy gingerbread and rich fruit cake (complete with marzipan, of course), sticky toffee pudding with a thick layer of treacle. Water just encourages that rubber note. 

    Finish

    Dry, lingering.

    Conclusion

    Maturation in a Sherry butt has coaxed out an indulgent side of North British. 

    Right place, right time

    Hiding in the pantry eating left-over birthday cake.

    North British 21 Years Old (North Star Spirits)

    North British 21 Years Old (North Star Spirits)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.9%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Milk chocolate-coated raisins, crushed walnuts and clotted cream toffee, then a hint of damp newspaper. Water reveals a sweet floral character, vanilla and soft oak.

    Palate

    All the toasted sweetness: caramel popcorn, toasted brioche and buttered white toast. It’s sweet, but with grip and a slightly damp wood edge. In time there’s Calvados and toffee apples. Water releases some wood spice, softening the bitterness. 

    Finish

    Crisp and toasty.

    Conclusion

    Sweet with good grip.

    Right place, right time

    Returning from a forest funfair, fingers sticky from candy floss and popcorn.

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