Glenallachie Virgin Oak Series

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Glenallachie’s new Virgin Oak Series is just the sort of range which makes my ears prick up and gets my inner whisky geek juices flowing. The range consists of three 12 year old whiskies, which each start life in identical fashion having been matured in bourbon barrels, but which have then been finished in hogsheads made from a different species of virgin oak for approximately 18 months. The three virgin oak finishes are French oak sourced from the Haute-Garonne region close to the Pyrenees, Spanish oak sourced from the Cantabrian Mountains in Northern Spain, and Chinquapin oak, which has been sourced from the Northern Ozark region in Missouri, USA.

Commenting on the new range, Glenallachie Master Blender Billy Walker said: “With this new range, I wanted to explore and showcase the different range of flavours that can be created with different types of virgin oak. Lots of people have matured or finished whisky in virgin oak before, but I wanted to take things further and explore what happens when you use different derivatives of virgin oak – for example with different terroir, different drying periods and different toasting and charring levels.

“There’s an understanding that good whisky matured in good wood makes something special. But I wanted to put good whisky in spectacular types of wood, wood with real history and unique characteristics. I’m constantly looking for interesting types of wood and with this range we found three exceptional examples from France, Spain and the USA that have helped create three very different and special whiskies.”

Let’s check them out.

Glenallachie 12yo French Virgin Oak Finish
1,100 cases
48% ABV
£62.46 here

Nose: Quite rich and earthy, with cacao nibs, coffee grounds, toasted walnut, and chocolate orange. Then toffee apples, vanilla fudge, manuka honey, and bark appear.

Palate: Tiramisu, sweet tobacco, toasted vanilla pods, and singed orange peel, along with some roasted almonds.

Finish: Lingering dark chocolate, black tea and cinder toffee.

Glenallachie 12yo Spanish Virgin Oak Finish
1,100 cases
48% ABV
£62.46 here

Nose: Toasted coconut, golden treacle, cinnamon swirls, buttered crumpets, orange marmalade and dusty oak. Noticeably lighter than the French oak finish.

Palate: A creamy entry, with fudge, toffee, and caramel. Then a clove spice, with buttered toast, rye bread, and gingerbread biscuits.

Finish: Lots of mixed baking spices, with orange peel and a hint of coffee liqueur.

Glenallachie 12yo Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish
1,100 cases
48% ABV
£62.46 here

Nose: Remarkably different from the first two, with a chamomile note giving way to cranberry, blackberry, dried raisins, cherries, and some sticky dates. Significantly ‘darker’ than the previous two whiskies.

Palate: Floral honey and maple syrup move on to brambles, red currants, and more cherries, along with Danish pastries and a touch of Blackjack sweets.

Finish: Stays floral and slightly herbal, with a bit of fruit and nut chocolate too.

Overall: Firstly, before we even get to the geek-out of comparing the different virgin oak finishes, I should say that all three expressions are very good whiskies in their own right. My pick of the bunch is probably the Chinquapin oak; the nose is rather unique and offers a touch more depth and complexity compared to the French and Spanish virgin oak finishes. That said, the real USP of this range is the ability to compare different finishes, and so if you see this trio in a post-lockdown whisky bar, I’d highly recommend buying a dram of each and spending some time getting to know them. This range definitely has the feel of being created “by geeks, for geeks”, and with that in mind it’s a fantastic organoleptically educational series.




  1. Hi there,

    comparing the original tasting notes oft the trio you get the feeling of a certain mono-dimensionality as with many of the Glenallachie mini series or single cask offerings of one batch.

    £62.46 for 12 yo whiskies… really? What next?


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