The Old Malt Cask: Allt-A-Bhainne 50 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 11 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Buttery gold.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Very thick toffee pavlova. Slightly tarry. Butterscotch and barley. No burn but feels very whisky styled on the nostrils. Water makes banoffee and peanuts.

Body: Thick. Lime touch. Nutty. Grapefruit at the front. Water adds key lime and meringue. More water makes lightly tarry and quite sweet. A mix of banoffee and treacle tart.

Finish: Light nuttiness. Butterscotch. Charred oak. Grapefruit again. Water makes toffee and malt biscuits. The alcohol feels numbing here. Milky chocolate and banana. Treacle tart with more water.

Conclusion: Hard to get a grip on this whisky initially as it seemed to almost evaporate on hitting the tongue. The whisky air filled my mouth with a strong, and very distinctly whisky feel, but with few distinct elements coming out. I found that odd as the aroma before that had been very distinct – sweet and slightly tarry with pavolva elements.

Now, this is a 50% abv whisky, so I wasn’t overly surprised that a bit of water helped out, especially in the previously numbing finish. A mix of banana and toffee elements came out amongst a light nuttiness.  There was still a slight indistinctness mid body, yet at no point did it seem to lack flavour. It just seemed very much to taste like whisky, a fact which could explain its popularity in blending- it feels very archetypical.

Even more water finally helped define it. Light banana became evident instead of that odd, almost citrus flavour in the raw and powerful neat whisky.  Here you can see smooth dessert treacle tart sweetness and light nuttiness. Here it becomes a very pleasant whisky, and very distinct in the elements I recognised in Chivas Regal.

Neat it was a bit harsh edged, water makes much more easy going. A whisky banana liquor mix and nicer than that sounds. The whisky is always the defining characteristic. It’s more like little banana chunks thrown into the mix.

I enjoyed it both with and without water, and the dessert sweetness was very soothing but it isn’t better than a lot of the better known malts. What I did get great enjoyment from was the experience of it having previously tried both the Chivas Blend and the Strathisla single malt which gives an intriguing insight into how the whiskys combine.

As a whisky very smooth and, while simple neat, becomes quite flavoursome with water. There are better, so if the status as a component of Chivas doesn’t interest you then you may want to look elsewhere. However if you are interested then this is a nice way to explore, and the strength means you can really experiment with the full range it can bring to the table.

Background: According to a bit of research this whisky is mainly used in Chivas Regal blended whisky and is pretty uncommon as a single malt.  This bottle was a gift from my parents for Christmas, and a good choice to pick one of the distilleries I have never tried before. The bottle is referred to as “Advance Sample” which, according to master of malt, is because they are intended to duplicate the sample bottles sent out for deciding if a cask should be bottled. This was put in a single sherry butt in 2000 and bottled 2011.