Welcome back to the end of the first full week of whisky tasting through the 3rd edition. What a fun ride so far with some new players in the mix and a lot of different drams and wee bottles that have hit the recycling bin.
Today as promised we are getting our geek on with one of my favorite Independent Bottlers, Samaroli. Founded in 1968 by Silvano Samaroli they were at the time the only independent bottler outside of the UK buying up a bunch of casks and also laying down casks of their own. Bottling from a uniquely Italian perspective, Samaroli always look for the delicate complexity that is a feature of some of the best Scotches in the world. Just to make it 100% clear Samaroli source and bottle all their Scotch whisky in Scotland it just so happens that they get samples sent to Rome where Cindy and I get to travel to pick their whiskies every year (how did we make this up).
Allt a Bhainne (pronounced Olta-VAYne) is now owned by Pernod Ricard after being purchased from the closing Canadian Seagrams Group in 2000. Built in 1975 the bulk of its production goes into the Chivas Regal blends. Difficult to find as a Single Malt, even the odd independent bottling seems to be few and far between. The distillery started in 2010 to produce 50% of it’s output as a lightly peated whisky as Chivas needed some additional weight for some of its blends but does not own a distillery on Islay. The peated version of Allt a Bhainne is about 10ppm on the phenolic scale so still fairly light as far as peat goes.
Today’s whisky comes before that change and so should be peat free (sorry for the peat heads, you just had a dram a few days ago so chill already).
Samaroli Allt a Bhainne Single Malt 2008 – 8 Year Old aged in a lightly toasted new American Oak Hogshead and bottled at the Samaroli chosen percent of 43% without any color or chill filtration. Cask number 900853. Speyside.
Color: Light as you would expect from Samaroli. Heck even the 30 year old Linkwood from the 2nd edition was incredibly light in color after 30 years. This one is no exception to that rule with only the tiniest touch of golden hue making it look like a lightly aged Sauv Blanc.
Nose: Honeysuckle and tee tree bark. Alpine meadow complete with a fresh mountain stream.
Palate: OK seriously Italian dudes, wow. From the nose I was not expecting the explosion of taste on the palate. Sweet loving flavors of epic proportions. Intense floral notes of rose petals and violets underpinned with a cache of rich vanilla infused potpurri.
Finish: Fresh white chewy Nougat with almonds, rosemary and a hint of spearmint.
This is by far the very best Allt a Bhainne I have ever had (only had half a dozen or so) and only 8 years old. Got to love the Samaroli new oak aging. I wish more Scottish distilleries and independent bottlers would play with new oak and different toasting/charring levels. These are ingredients in whisky making that are largely ignored mostly due to tradition more than anything else.
50ml is not enough of this whisky and I am happy to let you know that there will be some full bottles available. Please email me at email@example.com and I can tell you where to get it.
Whiskylassie has been having a blast and I am keen to see her tasting note on this beaut of a Samaroli here.
In the 2nd edition on this day we had the gorgeous Samaroli 18 year old Strathisla and you can read all about it here. Another coincidence like this and you are going to think I actually planned it all bwahahahaha.
Tomorrow we are staying in Speyside again but with an offering from the Malt Whisky Company aged in an Oloroso Sherry Cask. Until then dream about delicious drams and happy days.
Jonathan – taster of Secrets