The latest distillery to get the revival treatment from Billy Walker. Pretty much everything you will get from GlenAllachie at the moment will have had some sort of finish, due to the large amount of tired stock inherited in the purchase. The problem with that is you do feel like you are buying a whisky that has been “tarted up”. As the old saying goes, it’s a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. Perhaps that is a bit too glib, and a cask finish in the right hands (and with a bit of luck), can work wonders to the finished product.
The spirit produced by the new owners will be exciting to try once matured and ready for bottling, but in the mean time, Billy and the team have been using their vast experience in the area of cask finishing to work with what they have been left with. You have to say that the experience has not gone to waste and they are producing some excellent results. The first that comes to mind would be the cask strength 10 year old, which is whipped off the shelves of retailers before the dust has had chance to even think about settling.
I tried a few of their wine finishes at a tasting earlier this year, and it was the Grattamacco finish I am reviewing today that stood out from the others, and made me want to buy a bottle to explore further. Grattamacco is a winery in the Bolgheri area of Tuscany, Italy. Organic farming techniques are practiced at the vineyard, with the grapes hand picked and the wine aged for 18 months in French oak barriques, before being bottled.
The whisky has spent almost two years in one of those barriques. Previously it had spent its time in American Oak Ex-Bourbon barrels.
This whisky is bottled at 48% ABV, is un-chill filtered and natural colour. A quick Google search at time of posting suggests there are a few bottles still out there. Expect to pay around £55-60
Colour : Ruby blush
Nose : A big hit of creamy toffee, with a slight sour edge from the red wine. It’s quite sweet and jammy, with red fruits; raspberries, blackcurrants and cranberry coming to the fore. I’m also getting some milk chocolate and coconut, along with some bread dough.
Palate : Sweet, sour, bitter are all there mingling with each other and the balance between them is good. We’re getting more of the red fruits mentioned on the nose and they’re quite sour and tannic, but with a sweetness that keeps the sour in check. There’s a kick of oaky spice, vanilla cream, fresh yeast, ginger, honey and a little licorice. The finish is drying, with rich oak, black tea, chopped nuts, ginger and a touch of salt.
Conclusions : This could divide a room in my opinion. There are some people who just don’t get on with wine finishes, and there is no denying this is pretty winey and tannic. There are some lovely fruity notes, and I enjoy the mix of sensations that switch and change on the palate through the development. Thankfully, I am a fan of a wine finish, and this one is hitting all the right notes for me.