The GlenAllachie, headed up by award-winning veteran master distiller Billy Walker, have revealed the inaugural bottlings released within their new Wine Cask Series. Billy carefully selected premium barriques formerly used to age fine wines across France, Italy, and Spain to create three expressions to kick off the limited edition range.
After initial aging in American Oak ex-bourbon barrels, the whisky was transferred into the expertly chosen wine casks to undergo almost two years of additional maturation under Billy’s close supervision within The GlenAllachie’s on-site warehouses.
As well as the terroir of the wine, factors such as the oak species, the cooperage and level of toasting were all considered in the cask selection process. Each of these aspects ultimately influence the characteristics of the resulting whisky.
The debut instalment of The GlenAllachie Wine Cask Series features an 11-year-old Grattamacco Cask Finish, a 12-year-old Sauternes Cask Finish, and a 13-year-old Rioja Cask Finish.
The first expression is an 11-year-old finished in certified Organic Super Tuscan barriques made of French oak from the Grattamacco winery in the Bolgheri area of Tuscany, Italy.
The second bottling in the range is a 12-year-old that completed its maturation journey in French oak casks which previously held Sauternes, a dessert wine originating from Bordeaux in South-West France, after a medium level of toasting.
The final expression in the series is a 13-year-old whisky which underwent secondary maturation in medium-toasted Spanish oak casks from Rioja, one of Spain’s premier wine regions.
Every whisky in the range is available in very limited quantities, with only around 6,000 bottles per release. The bottlings are presented at 48% ABV, without added colouring or chill filtration.
We sat down with Billy to find out more.
What inspired you to create the Wine Cask Series?
Cask-finishing is perhaps the most exciting part of wood management because it allows an extra layer of complexity to be added to the whisky, whilst ensuring that the distillery character is not overpowered by the influence of the Oak. As an avid wine drinker, I was really excited to explore the influence of casks that had previously held fine wines on our whisky.
Why did you select these specific wine casks for the series?
A key factor for me is showcasing a wide array of cask influence within the series. I wanted to experiment with both red and white wine barriques to highlight the breadth in flavour profile we can achieve. Experience has led me to understand what casks are likely to interact well with the spirit, and this is what shaped the first batch of bottlings that we have released in the range.
Which is your favourite bottling from the first batch of whiskies?
I’m delighted with the variety we have achieved in these three really interesting expressions. The Grattamacco delivers a nutty, stone fruit character, the Sauternes reveals an elegant grapefruit and elderflower tone, and the Rioja overflows with red berry sophistication. If I had to choose a favourite, I would probably pick the Grattamacco Wine Finish as I think the resulting whisky is really unique and full of flavour.
Do you have more casks maturing now which will form the next batch in the Wine Cask Series?
Absolutely – being a Master Blender takes plenty of patience. It also takes a great deal of forward planning and innovation, which is something I love. We have some really exciting casks slumbering in our warehouses which I am continuing to sample throughout the maturation journey to ensure the cask influence is in perfect harmony with the distillery character of the whisky.
The GlenAllachie Wine Cask Series is available from specialist retailers globally. For more information, visit: theglenallachie.com.