By Kurt Maitland
Allt-A-Bhainne is a young Speyside malt whisky distillery that, founded in 1975. Built to supply the blended whisky needs of the Chivas Brothers, the distillery stayed in their hands even as the company itself passed from Seagram’s to Pernod Ricard.
The distillery (pronounced Ollt-err-VANE) derives its name from the Gaelic, which means ‘burn of milk’. It lies on the southern slopes of the rugged Benrinnes mountain range, and draws its water from a spring hidden in the range’s peaks.
Because Allt-A-Bhainne exists to provide stock for Chivas blends, their single malts invariably come from independent bottlers, such as this example from Signatory Vintage. It spent 18 years in a hogshead before bottling at 43% ABV, and judging from the color (read on), it was a well-used hogshead at that.
Color: White gold.
Nose: White wine fruity, with pear, green apple and hints of clove.
Taste: The whisky is not quite as sweet as the nose would hint at. A sweetness is there, but you only get a little fruit and a glimpse of the vanilla plus a hint of bitter cooking spice. I can see why this is a base for blends, because I believe this malt would benefit from being paired with grain whisky. In a blend, it would prove more of an asset than standing on its own.
Finish: Mid-length slightly peppery finish. This finish seems to grow with each sip.
Water makes this a little sweeter and extends the finish, but doesn’t do enough to truly justify its addition.
This whisky is the equivalent of a good table wine. It’s not collectable, and it’s probably not going to be your favorite, go-to whisky. It’s a good as a change of pace, however, because it’s the kind of whiskey that you sit with and wonder how you knocked a quarter of it out in one sitting.
Stateside, this release runs around $75 to $80 dollars US. It goes for a good deal more in the UK.