United Kingdom Exclusive PST Speyside Selection
The most experience I have had with Allt-á-Bhanne is listening to Aqvavitae’s “How to Pronounce Scotch Whisky” series and I still got it wrong the first time! It’s not often I see the distillery’s bottles offered in my area outside of the occasional SMWS release. This is seemingly purposeful, as the majority of their spirit ends up in Chivas. I have something I can at least compare to as I’m familiar with the malts that make up the blend.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 20+ minutes of rest. Dilution added for the second half of the tasting with additional rest.
As I first poured my sample, I instantly got tropical fruit notes of pineapple and kiwi fruit. I was determined to let this sample rest for a bit and capped it while I sipped a Chivas blend I happened to have. Those tropical notes never entirely returned. Over time in the glass, the aromas changed more to a honey and hay composition. Grassy and delicate floral notes. Honeysuckle, edible flowers, and bee pollen. Ferns, mosses, and new growth in the greenhouse of a garden center. New leather upholstery. Shortbread, scones, lemon icing, and cream. A malty and wonderful nose.
The malt comes through incredibly well on the palate with a grassy, almost rye spice character. Sweet honey cakes with vanilla and clover honey. Herb garden staples like basil and parsley. The flavors on the palate start to turn savory with starchy vegetables and green olives. Cucumbers, celery hearts, and cauliflower florets. Mediterranian flavors but without the noticeable punch of lemon from the nose. Pleasant texture and a peppery bite of fresh pressed olive oil.
The finish composes many of the aromas and flavors I got, ever so eloquently. An excellent cask-influenced bitterness continues to bring that grassy malt flavor. Tree bark, ferns, and wildflowers. An unexpected minerality of slate and chalk. As I sat longer with my glass, that salinity from the palate starts to grow. Grilled pork chops with a fresh lemon parsley marinade. A green tobacco note lingers bringing further herbal influence to the dram. Dense flavors coat your cheeks and really highlight the age of the spirit.
I’m reminded of a slate-lined creek bed behind my childhood home in Pennsylvania. Living close to the Appalachians, slate seemed to be along every trail and waterway. I used to play in the creek as a child. I’d hike my shorts up to cross over and explore the clearing behind the tree line. It was full of wildflowers every year and grasses that went well above my head. Something about this bottle triggered those pleasant memories of Spring and early Summer.
I can’t be entirely sure but I could be convinced this was aged in a rye cask. The green, herbal, and hay-like qualities of the malt were wonderful. The sweetness of the malt but with the bitterness of the oak cask played beautifully together. The touch of salinity and minerality brought it all together for me in the end.
An uncomplicated dram, a bit simple, but I rather enjoy this bottle. Allt-á-Bhanne somehow distilled Spring in a glass.