Award-winning distillery focuses on quality over quantity

The GlenAllachie Distillery is centring its efforts on using the best wood available for maturing its whisky – spending £1m on casks for 2021.

Industry veteran Billy Walker

One of Scotland’s few independently owned and managed distilleries, the Speyside-based distillery, has reduced its production capacity from four million litres to 500,000 litres of alcohol.

The team there, led by industry veteran Billy Walker, who boasts an almost 50-year tenure in whisky, has also increased its fermentation period to 160 hours for a rich, fruity spirit.

This year’s eye-watering cask budget is down to their innovative wood policy. With 16 on-site warehouses holding more than 50,000 casks, that means complete control of the maturation process for the three core brands, GlenAllachie Single Malt, MacNair’s Lum Reek Blended Malt and White Heather Blended Scotch Whisky.

This distillery spends £1m a year on casks alone

“Wood contributes 70 per cent to the total experience of a whisky, in my opinion,” says Billy, who was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in early 2021.

“We concentrate much more on wood management due to our proactive, ‘quality over quantity’ philosophy. Of course, we have formulas in our head, but we do not select casks by a computer. We carefully hand-pick our casks based on our personal experience, and prior knowledge of working with certain types and styles.

“This gives us the freedom to make decisions for all the right reasons.

“We believe age and integrity matter, which is why all our whiskies carry an age statement, and are bottled at a minimum of 46% ABV, natural colour and non-chill filtered for maximum flavour experience.”

The distillery is in beautiful Speyside

Award-winning whiskies

The GlenAllachie’s multi-award-winning core range features a 10-year-old Cask Strength batch release, which won World’s Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards 2021, 12-year-old, 15-year-old, 18-year-old, 21-year-old Cask Strength and 30-year-old Cask Strength.

The distillery regularly releases limited editions, such as the recent Wine Cask Series which features a Grattamacco, Sauternes and Rioja Wine Cask Finish, and the Virgin Oak Series, which includes a Chinquapin, Spanish and French Virgin Oak finish.

Each release exemplifies Billy Walker’s passion and expertise for seeking out the finest oak casks from around the world, while MacNair’s Lum Reek Blended Malt Scotch Whisky sees him source and blend the finest single malts from Islay and Speyside, including vintage GlenAllachie. The 12-year-old and 21-year-old bottlings are the perfect dram to accompany a traditional toast to long life: “lang may yer lum reek”.

White Heather 21-year-old is their premium blended scotch whisky offering, and the first blend Billy has released since his first forays in the industry.

Meet Billy Walker

Billy’s journey in the whisky industry began in 1972, when he joined the team developing blends at Hiram Walker & Sons in Dumbarton – the company behind Ballantine’s at the time. Billy’s next step was a move to Inver House Distillers in 1976 where he took up the position of Master Blender.

In 1982, Billy moved on to spend 20 years with Burn Stewart Distillers, before setting his sights on distilleries to revive, which led him to acquire BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh.

After selling these distilleries and consulting with his team, Billy purchased the GlenAllachie Distillery in 2017, as well as MacNair’s Blended Malt and White Heather Blended Scotch Whisky brands. So The GlenAllachie Distillers Company was formed – one of the few remaining independent and entirely Scottish-owned and managed Scotch whisky firms.

GlenAllachie was the main target for Billy in seeking out a new distillery to revive. It was particularly appealing to him as, from a blending perspective, he was very familiar with the liquid. It was not a shy spirit; in fact, it was full-bodied and muscular.

Moreover, it was an ideal prospect as Billy was very keen to work on a distillery and brand that was totally unexposed to the market – a blank canvas.

He holds widespread acclaim for his hands-on and pioneering approach to wood management, regularly releasing innovative limited editions and single casks. He was named Master Distiller/Blender of the Year in the Icons of Whisky Awards 2020.

Find out more

Whisky fans can now visit the distillery, either to browse the shop or for a tour. Due to COVID restrictions, there are two virtual experiences from the comfort of the tasting room which feature a tutored tasting of four drams: choose from The GlenAllachie Experience and The Premium Experience.

For full details, visit https://theglenallachie.com/