It seems that everything is happening on Skye at the start of the new school year.
As soon as I left the ferry from Raasay Island (where I had the opportunity to share with you the birth of the first endemic whisky -here-), I received a message from John MACKINNON with whom I had the opportunity to taste the first distillate of the new island distillery TORABHAIG (when I tell you that there is something new here). He told me to take advantage of my visit to ARAMADALE, in the south-east of the island, to taste the second whisky of the LEGACY series, the ALLT GLEANN.
Copyright Willie McPhelim
So here I am, back in the south of the Isle of Skye. I knew the release schedule of the LEGACY range (see below) but I didn't expect to come back so quickly to the edge of Knock Bay (but we won't complain).
John MACKINNON is sitting behind the bay window between the two main buildings of the distillery (a link between the history of the farm and the modernity of the distillery). He is probably preparing a new distillate.
It still smells like peat in the area, a real pleasure.
He waves to me and joins me in front of the big letters of TORABHAIG. He has a bottle of the new Allt Gleann in his hand and accompanies me right next to it in front of the paddle wheel because that's where he wants me to taste the whisky.
A curious place.
What he wants to show me at this point is the water that runs under our feet and drives the wheel. A stream of pure water filtered by the rocks of the surrounding mountains called Allt Gleann! Doesn't that remind you of something? Just look at the bottle, it's written on it! Everything becomes clear. The choice was made to pay tribute to the water without which TORABHAIG's distillate would not flow from the condenser!
Here it is, the second opus of the new distillery's future heritage.
Already like clockwork despite its young age, the distillery continues to "distil" (no pun intended) its experiences. Last year the first three year old LEGACY 2017 (see here the tasting), this year the ALLT GLEANN, in 2024 the CNOC NA MOINE (paying tribute to the highlands mountain), in 2026 the ALLT BREACACH (second source of water for the distillery) and finally in 2028 a promising 10 year old. All small nuggets released in 30 casks each.
Let's stop procrastinating and dive into the peat, because peat is what PEATDREAM is all about!
We had already been thrilled by the result of the distillation of a 50 PPM smoked malt for the 2017, and now John tells me that the horses of the malt smoker have been let loose and that the Concerto and Lauréate barley have taken 77 PPM of smoke.
We're talking about a peated whisky, I tell you!
Already, the distillate is here in its natural colour and is going to be golden by its years spent in old bourbon casks and old rehabilitated whisky casks (we don't know its age but logically we must be on 3 or 4 years-NDLR). No fuss at TORABHAIG, they want to show what they can do and experiment later: all to their credit!
So, does this whisky smell like peat?
Yes, it does!
From afar, it is already noticeable with a nice maritime freshness accompanied by the smell of the malt which has captured the phenols.
When you put your nose in the glass, it confirms its presence. The smoky scent is accompanied by a mixture of lemon and vanilla at the same time. A hint of liquorice stick can be detected. Persistent peppery notes escape and tickle the eyelashes of the nose.
The second passage is warmer and sweeter. The smell of smoke is still there but it rounds out with notes of citrus fruit that are sweeter than acid.
The third passage continues to warm up and brings honeyed, sweet but also spicy notes.
To the nose this whisky is going to be like the backwash of the sea in the Gulf of Knock Bay. The water comes in and brings with it freshness and spray and when it leaves, the sand warms in the sun and becomes dry.
In the palm of your hand, the distillate takes on the smell of tyre and tobacco but with airs perhaps a little fresher than on other peated whiskies.
Ah, we wanted peat and we got it. And in a more marked way than on the first opus.
Above all, enjoy the impression of swallowing smoke.
Like the nose, the entry in the mouth will be fresh. At first, it will scare you with a touch of bitterness (certainly linked to its youth) but which will very quickly give way to maritime and lemony notes.
Soon enough, it becomes softer and brings a bag of spices on the tongue. These notes will disappear quite quickly to leave more room for a peaty aroma and its smoky tension (which peat lovers will enjoy).
The rest of the tasting will be more mellow with vanilla aromas and surprising hints of almond.
Just as you have swallowed it and the last notes of lemon and spices have lingered on the tongue, we discover a rather long finish with hints of liquorice and a long smoke residue.
Once the tasting is over, I take myself to escape by looking under my feet at the dark and pure water and in my glass at the golden liquid and I tell myself that the knowledge of men sometimes makes beautiful things. Yes, I know what you're going to say...46% alcohol, enough to make you philosophical.
That's how I take leave of my host and I'll see him in 2024 for the third episode.
In the meantime, if you can't wait, something tells me that there might be TORABHAIG to taste at the next whisky-live in PARIS this month !