Category Archives: Allt a’Bhainne

Allt-a-Bhainne (NAS distillery release)

Bought: Sainsbury’s, 23rd May 2019

78.27/100 – Whiskybase (average from 13 member votes)
4/5 Stars – The Whisky Exchange (average from 4 ratings)

Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) appear to have a plan, which is to introduce pocket-friendly bottlings into UK supermarkets from their more obscure distilleries. I believe it started in 2017 with the Glenallachie ‘Distillery Edition’ and then the Glen Keith ‘Distillery Edition’ in 2018. We now have a simple offering from the Allt-a-Bhainne distillery. All three releases are NAS (no age statement), from Speyside, 40%, and probably chill-filtered with added colour.

I would say Chivas have given us an inexpensive way to experience the house-style of each distillery but that only applies to the Glenallachie and Glen Keith. This new Allt-a-Bhainne has taken a different tack by introducing a hint of peat. Wow, a peated Speyside? “Bolsheviks!” I hear you cry. OK, so it’s been done to death in recent years but this one is so subtle that a lot of reviewers struggle to spot that it’s there. The marketing blurb says, “just enough peat to start a fire”. Hmmm, I think the marketing team at Chivas are confusing peat with matches, flint, or two sticks you rub together. Peat might keep a fire going but I’ve never heard of it starting one.

But less of my nit-picking and quibbling. Is this whisky worth drinking? Just over 78/100 on Whiskybase suggest it’s OK, leaning towards ‘good’ but that’s what you’d expect for the price point. Sainsbury’s say the RRP is £37 but even when they reduced it to £27 I wasn’t tempted. It took a drop to £20 to draw me in, which was the same discounted price as the Glen Keith (Glenallachie I got for £21). For £20 comments on a whisky Facebook page were “get it!”, “get it!” and “get it!” Other comments online include, “mild mouthfeel with just the right level of peatiness”, “absolutely gorgeous and smooth. The hint of peatness is just perfect”, “it’s smooth, subtle peat flavour, nice flavours going on but it’s very sweet – too sweet for me” and “very quaffable”.

I get the feeling that Chivas introduced this new Allt-a-Bhainne to allow the diehard Speyside fan to try a tentative toe-dip in peaty waters. Anyone who regularly drinks Islay malts is going to struggle to spot the peat and probably down-rate the dram as a consiquence. But for what it is I feel the Allt-a-Bhainne hits the spot. And I hope Chivas continue the trend of releases from their lesser known distilleries. How about a Braeval ‘Distillery Edition’ in 2020!

Here’s Great Drams with their thoughts on the new Allt-a-Bhainne on YouTube (Oct 2018):

Allt a´Bhainne 16-year-old Castle Collection

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 19th June 2015

73/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

I got this Allt a´Bhainne in a mix of miniatures at auction otherwise I doubt I would have singled it out for purchase. But I’m glad I got it. This whisky was distilled in 1979, only 4 years after Allt a´Bhainne was built along with Braeval to provide whisky for the Chivas blend. The distillery was mothballed in 2002 only to be reopened again in 2005 when Chivas launched a big effort to beat Johnnie Walker Black Label as the World’s number one blend. So you can see from the distillery’s history that providing single malt is low on its priority. There is no bottling facility at the distillery. We have to thank independent bottlers like ‘The Whisky Castle’ for buying up casks and letting the world find out what the bare bones of Allt a´Bhainne tastes like.

The house style for Allt a´Bhainne is sweet, floral, light in body and a bit spicy; very much an aperitif whisky. The Whisky Bible 2015 lists 10 versions of Allt a´Bhainne, all by independent bottlers (I don’t believe the distillery has ever released a single malt themselves). The best scores 92/100, a 20yo by Master of Malt, with a 12yo by Provenance taking second spot with 91.5/100.

The Whisky Castle company is based in Tomintoul. You can find their website here.

Allt a´Bhainne Castle Collection 16yo 5cl

Allt a’Bhainne 1995 (Carn Mor c.17-year-old)

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th September 2013

81.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

This Allt a’Bhainne is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2012, it’s from a limited edition of 290, Cask No: 125285. Non-chill filtered and no added colour, it’s just a pity there’s so little of it. But then it wouldn’t be so special if there was lots!

81.25/100 on Whiskybase is a good score where one member leaves these tasting notes:

Nose: Light and sweet. Starts grassy followed by honey and vanilla. Some yellow apples. Flowery notes as well.
Taste: Unexpectedly punchy for its 46%. Toasted oak. Sugared almonds. Cinnamon. Liquorice at the background.
Finish: Medium long. Dry. Lots of bitterness of pink grapefruit. Gingery. Pine and spearmint.
Comments: Excellent aperitif whisky for a Sunday afternoon.

Allt a'Bhainne 1995 Carn Mor 20cl