After fifty years in the business, Speyside’s Master whisky blender and winner of the World’s Best Single Malt at the 2021 World Whiskies Awards, industry legend Billy Walker has had to radically re-think his tasting notes, refresh his color descriptions and radically overhaul his nosing vocabulary.
Now he is talking “golden sunrises” and “golden barley” and “lashings of pineapple, smoked plantains and cinnamon, with vanilla, butterscotch, and smoked Caribbean jerky, bursting with ripe bananas, fried banana chips, honey, and strawberry coulis.” Because now he is talking rum. Small-batch and boutique.
Under its new “Macnair’s Boutique House of Spirits” label, the independently owned and managed spirits firm, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, had released Exploration Rum Jamaica Peated and Unpeated to add to its 2021 Panama rum range.
Walker chose Jamaica’s Clarendon Distillery one of the island’s oldest sugar cane plantations and subjected its rum to a similarly complex and innovative maturation process.
“Everything we do is focused on undertaking an enhanced maturation process to deliver an optimum drinking experience.”
Exploring the unique interaction between the GlenAllachie spirit and different types of oak cask, each of Walker’s whisky expressions has its own unique DNA.
They are aged in a variety of finishes- wood, virgin oak, sherry butt, bourbon barrel, and wine cask. His 32-year-old Pedro Ximénez puncheon has warm glazed fig and “cuddly mocha” notes while White Heather 21-Year-Old is the result of a mix of Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso puncheons and Appalachian virgin oak casks.
His new rums are no different.
“I purposefully obtained spirit at high, medium, and low ester levels in order to achieve a multitude of flavor attributes from the wood.”
“Exploring a new spirits category has been an extremely enjoyable new challenge. Bringing the rums straight to GlenAllachie Distilleryat Aberlour at the foot of Ben Rinnes to be fully aged under our supervision in the cool Speyside climate has created a totally unique flavor experience, our aim is to push the boundaries of convention to develop eclectic, innovative rums for the curious and adventurous consumer,
“Parallels can be drawn between the rum and whisky categories. They both are subjected to scrupulously supervised fermentation and distillation procedures, each step carefully considered in order to generate the desired organoleptic characteristics. They both utilize maturation in wood as a method of flavor development.”
Walker felt the ‘craft’ side of rum-making was “not being engaged with strongly enough.” Creative wood management was brought into play.
After initial maturation in American oak in the tropical Panamanian climate, the molasses-based spirit was transferred to the much cooler aging environment at The GlenAllachie Distillery. The 7-Year-Old and 15-Year-Old were moved to ex-Bourbon, red wine, and virgin oak for an additional two years. The 7-Year-Old Peated remained in casks that previously held peated spirit distilled at The GlenAllachie.
“It is our intention to continue on an experimental journey, using non-traditional cask types and aging processes to put our own stamp on the premium rums we carefully select from around the world.”
Glenallachie also makes Macnair’s “Lum Reek” whiskies (blends of Islay and Speyside) named after the old Scottish saying, “Lang may yer lum reek” or “long may your chimney smoke”, a traditional way to wish someone a long, healthy and prosperous life.