Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Added colouring: No
Owner: Alistair Walker Whisky Company
Official website: www.alistairwalkerwhisky.com
When we think of a double review, we always try to find a common thread linking the bottlings. Sometimes it’s predictable but strong, others more subtle but suggestive; today’s is curious, with a didactic nuance.
It’s in fact two single casks from the same source, distilled on the same day, offered by the same independent bottler, but with different maturations in duration and type.
The distillery in question is the young and underrated Allt-A-Bhainne, owned by the colossus Pernod Ricard; the day of distillation, 31 August 2005; the bottler, Alistair Walker with the Infrequent Flyers brand; the ages, 14 and 16 years.
Allt-A-Bhainne 2005 14yo
Ageing cask: Ex-Bourbon refill
Average price: € 90.00
14 years in a non-first-fill puncheon ex-Bourbon, No. 69290, before being bottled in March 2020 at 59.9% ABV in 643 bottles unfortunately hardly available in shops.
The light amber colour closely resembles that of wildflower honey.
On the nose, after an entrance at the rhythm of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear), with touches of cereal and jasmine, it veers towards the herbaceous/spicy, with notes of wild flowers, cloves, aniseed and chives. A vague recollection of sweet liquorice preludes the entry of vanilla after a few minutes, without the overall bucolic sensation of freshness ever diminishing. No alcohol content.
On the palate, after a peppery opening, we witness a fruity jubilation, with apple, pear, peach, and a noticeable citrus accent reminiscent of yellow orange. A bite of ripe plum and a touch of polished light wood open the door to a very enjoyable medium persistent finish, with its rainbow of fruit and, again, a hint of polished light wood.
Grassy on the nose, fruity on the palate, a less disruptive (and original) whisky than other Infrequent Flyers releases, but so enjoyable that it still deserves a warm recommendation.
Allt-A Bhainne 2005 16yo
Ageing cask: Ex-Sherry PX finish
Average price: € 140.00
Here we add a finish of unspecified duration in an ex-Pedro Ximénez puncheon, No. 805181, which in March 2022 yielded, at the monstrous grade of 62.3% ABV, 643 bottles.
On the nose, the former PX cask certainly didn’t work at the tip of the foil, but if you like the genre, there’s fun to be had, with notes of sour cherries in spirit, dates, berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) and a peculiar hint of leather. As the olfactory analysis proceeds, the fruit salad of the berries becomes jam, to which are added, with a trimalcionesque effect, ripe strawberries, sultanas, icing sugar, milk chocolate, dried figs and, surprisingly, even a touch of vanilla.
On the palate, the whisky is warm and inviting but the alcohol content suggests taking small sips: pepper on entry, then black cherry, sultanas, blackberries, dates and ripe blood orange. Incursions of milk chocolate, caramel and ripe apricot, with an impression of “strawberry” wine that remains, even more intense, in the long finish, marked by the presence of blueberries, caramel and vanilla cream.
A master of re-racking, Alistair Walker here has pushed the PX pedal, precisely to achieve a profile strongly influenced by the barrel. This choice may legitimately divide. As far as we are concerned, given the result, we are even enthusiastic.