GlenAllachie introduces three new “Virgin Oak” products

Independent Scotch whisky distillery The GlenAllachie today reveals a new trio of limited-edition single malts joining its Virgin Oak Series: Scottish Virgin Oak Finish 8yo, Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish 7yo, e Spanish Virgin Oak Finish 10yo.

‘Virgin oak’ refers to wood that has not previously been used to age any other wine or spirit; thus, its influence on the whisky is that of the oak alone. This series explores the impact of oak provenance, terroir, and genus on flavour development during the whisky maturation process.

The three unusual cask types were adeptly obtained by Scotch whisky industry stalwart Billy Walker, who has built a reputation, during his half-century-long career, for peerless wood innovation.

To create the triad of new whiskies, the spirit was first matured in American Oak (Quercus Alba) ex-Bourbon Barrels before undergoing a finishing period of approximately 18 months in the different oak varieties.

The Scottish Virgin Oak Finish 8 yo enjoyed secondary ageing in Sessile Oak (Quercus Petraea) sourced from the Atlantic coast of Scotland. Scottish oak is rarely used for cask production due to its tendency to knot as it grows, creating challenges in crafting staves; its porosity, boosting the chances of leakages; and its pronounced scarcity, commanding an eye-wateringly high price. Before being filled, the wood was naturally air-dried for 36 months, allowing for further development of flavour characteristics, then toasted and charred to a medium level.

The Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish 7 yo underwent an 18-month-long stint in Quercus Petraea from the Zemplén forest in the mountains of northeast Hungary. A highly unusual oak type for Scotch whisky maturation, The GlenAllachie is among the first producers to experiment with virgin Hungarian wood. The rocky volcanic soil, along with the colder climate and higher altitude in which it grows, means trees in the area grow very slowly, developing tighter grain: a desirable trait for ageing spirit.

The Spanish Virgin Oak Finish 10 yo used hogsheads made of Quercus Robur from the Spanish Cantabrian mountains with a cool yet humid climate. The oak was dried in the open air for 18 months, then toasted and charred, to open up the pores for flavour extraction by the whisky.

All three single malts were bottled at a high strength of 48% ABV without added colouring or chill filtration.

Reflecting on the new product innovations, the master distiller Billy Walker comments: “Virgin oak of varying provenance presents endless possibilities to me as a whisky maker. Exploring a variety of oak types, toasting and charring the casks to particular levels, and then closely observing the spirit development over time has been a truly joyful experience. These three new bottlings embody the range of flavours offered by oaks of different origins. From the Scottish, expect notes of biscuit, pear, and gingerbread; the Hungarian boasts waves of lemon juice, cinnamon, and raisins; and the Spanish oak has imparted bursts of toffee sauce and ripe banana. Each is as uniquely enticing as the last.”

The 8-year-old Scottish Virgin Oak Finish (UK RRSP £65.99), the 7-year-old Hungarian Virgin Oak Finish (UK RRSP £62.99), and the 10-year-old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish (UK RRSP £69.99) will begin hitting in these days, with global specialist retailers receiving stock in the coming weeks.


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