GlenAllachie explores virgin oak in new rangeBy Nicola Carruthers
Speyside distillery GlenAllachie has released its new limited edition Virgin Oak Series, comprising three 12-year-old whiskies aged in Spanish, French and chinquapin casks.
The new range consists of whiskies that have been finished in specially selected casks of different oak species from varying regions around the world.
The GlenAllachie Virgin Oak Series comprises: 12-year-old French Virgin Oak Finish, 12-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish, and 12-year-old Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish.
Each whisky in the range was first matured in white American oak ex-Bourbon barrels. The liquid is then further matured for around 12 months in virgin oak casks.
The GlenAllachie said that each expression has subtle flavour differences due to factors such as oak species, the local terroir, time spent natural air drying, toasting, charring and coopering of the casks.
Billy Walker, master distiller of The GlenAllachie, said: “With this new range, I wanted to explore and showcase the different range of flavours that can be created with different types of virgin oak.
“Lots of people have matured or finished whisky in virgin oak before, but I wanted to take things further and explore what happens when you use different derivatives of virgin oak – for example with different terroir, different drying periods and different toasting and charring levels.”
The Spanish Virgin Oak is finished in hogsheads made of Spanish white oak from the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain which have a cooler climate and greater humidity than the rest of the country.
The French Virgin Oak Finish is made from French oak from the Haute-Garonne region near the Pyrenees. The wood is air dried for 15 months before the GlenAllachie spirit goes in. The resulting liquid has a subtle, sweet and earthy taste.
Finally, the Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish is made from casks from the northern Ozark region in Missouri, US. Chinquapin is a sub-species of quercus alba and is said to deliver spicy flavours and aromas.
The casks are air dried for nearly four years then toasted to a medium level. The chinquapin casks offer “complex, zesty flavours” with notes of heather honey, barley sugar, toasted biscuit and orange zest.
Walker added: “There’s an understanding that good whisky matured in good wood makes something special. But I wanted to put good whisky in spectacular types of wood, wood with real history and unique characteristics.
“I’m constantly looking for interesting types of wood and with this range we found three exceptional examples from France, Spain and the USA that have helped create three very different and special whiskies.
“With the French virgin oak for example, the wood is very finely grained and rich, which creates a lovely sweet, earthy flavour with silky tannins. The pores of the Spanish virgin oak are less tight and it’s been naturally air dried for a slightly longer period which imparts more flavour, with the distinctive spicy, treacly notes.
“The Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish is significantly different. The wood has been dried for a much longer period which creates really interesting flavours of liquorice and even hints of rosehips.”
The range is non-chill-filtered, bottled at natural colour and carries an ABV of 48%. There are around 1,100 cases of each whisky, which are priced at RRP £59.99 (US$77.60) per 700ml bottle.