Allt-á-Bhainne, found typed in many varieties online, is a pretty young distillery, built as recent as 1975, and has already been mothballed once in its short lifespan. It's a modern mechanically operated distillery of which almost all produce is used for blending. But I do however remember a certain bottling from Signatory Vintage from 1978 that was great.
Allt-á-Bhainne 15yo 43% Robert Graham's
Seems online whisky shop Robert Graham's have bought a cask of Allt-á-Bhainne. It states it comes from a single cask, but not which, perhaps they've just invested in part of a cask from another company? White wine/tea color, it smells very powerful, rich, toffee, dark roasted coffee, leather, cigars, banana cream liqueur, vanilla, a mix of a powerful spirit and a very active bourbon cask. The taste is smoky, oaky, apple vinegar, extremely big for a 43%. If tasted blind I'd thought this might be some Islayer at about 55%abv. A Bowmore or perhaps even Caol Ila. Zesty and sour after a while, even more apple vinegar and some lime. Hints of peat smoke and vanilla in the background. Funny, I don't think they ever used peat at Allt-á-Bhainne. I think this very well could be one of the most unnoticed distilleries in all of Scotland. I certainly can't remember ever reading or hearing much, or anything, about it anywhere.
Perfect young and vigorous whisky: 8.5
Allt-á-Bhainne 16yo 50% Old Malt Cask Douglas Laing
Needless to say perhaps, the RG-bottling gave me high expectations for this one. One year older and higher strength. Same color, white wine-ish. A bit lighter maybe. It smells rich, toffee, honey, syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, a real dessert table if you like. Also smoky. The taste is more oaky and a tad more spirity this time. Perhaps it's because lesser water's been added prior to bottling? Well, I can surely add some of my own then.. This is a spicy little devil, galangal, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, coriander, lemon rind, olive oil. It has some stings of spirity notes and bitter oakiness, apart from that it's a good whisky.
Too much oak in this one, not often I find that in such young whiskies: 5.5
Allt-á-Bhainne 18yo 1992-2011 56.1% Malts of Scotland
From a bourbon hogshead, same color as last two. Let's hope the evolution of bourbon matured Allt-á-Bhainnes, which last two has shown doesn't continue further with this one. It smells rich ans spicy, leather, dry licorice, paint, dry white wine, earthy, balsamic vinegar, dried paprika, extremely good so far. If you like your whisky rustic and old fashioned this might be the one for you. It tastes sweet, bitter, burns a b it on the palate, tonic water, extremely concentrated fruit juice. This one screams for water to open up. With water it turns peppery and wile, some sort of Sprite-fruitiness, all on fruity lip-gloss and rubber.
It's hard to remember the rather nice nose after that fatal finish: 3
Allt-á-Bhainne 12yo 1981-1994 57.1% Signatory Vintage cask#12045 btl.869/1200
Looking at the number of bottles it seems quite a bit of this ask has been used for filling miniatures. I have had many good experiences with these young/old CS Signatories bottled in the late 80's/early-to-mid 90's. Recent bottlings has a harder time impressing me it seems. I think as many IB's do nowadays id putting all their bad stock into a less than mediocre range, and turning the prizes of their good stock up to a ridiculous amount. The findings of old gems at a low bargain price is becoming a bit of whisky history I think. Again this white wine color, I do see a red line in which casks this blend-orientated distillery uses for maturation. It smells red onions, smoked lamb meat, red curry, burnt rubber, honey, irish stew, guinness, reduced stout, barbecue sauce, chevre, wow, in danger of exaggerating, I know... a bit too late now, I think this is one of the best 12yo's I've nosed so far. Let's hope the palate can deliver. The taste is all on rosé wine and floral notes. I didn't see this one coming. It has this minty aftertaste, and loads and loads of herbs and different floral and grassy stuff on the initial palate. I believe water is needed here. With water it turns much richer and fatter, shallots, white wine vinegar, egg whites and burnt toast.
I'm a bit surprised, the nose promised much more than the palate was able to deliver: 4
Next tasting: Dufftown Distillery