Another in Glenmorangie’s Private Editions range. The 10th, I believe. And this is one I’ve been infinitely curious about ever since hearing about it. Yeast is, after all, the new frontier. In this chap’s humble opinion anyway.
Allta is Glenmo’s attempt at producing a single malt built on a beer made from their own strain of wild yeast. Said yeast apparently propagates uncontrolled on their Cadboll barley. Neato. So, the question is…why is yeast so exciting? Well…think about it. some of the most incredibly complex and interesting beers are built on a bedrock of ambient yeast. Consider the great Belgian lambics, for example. Now take this to its logical conclusion: whisky is distilled beer, left to age for prolonged spell of time. Wouldn’t it just make sense that the more interesting the yeast play, the more interesting the end product?
For someone geeky (like me, like many of you), this little project means a deviation from the norm. Most distilleries are tied (at the moment anyway) to Mauri and Kerry as their primary strains. A mix of M and MX, depending on the desired life span of the wee bacteria and the desired speed at which they sink their teeth into all those fermentable sugars. And a few distillers are, I believe, still using a bit of brewers yeast, as well. Kudos to Glenmorangie for steering the ship in a different direction on this one. Hopefully a sign of things to come in the industry. (Although Dr. Bill Lumsden’s education was intrinsically linked to yeast, so who knows if others wil have the same vested interest.)
51.2% abv. 1st and 2nd fill ex-bourbon.
Nose: Orange and almond. Vanilla. A little porridge-y. Maybe a little boozy too. Honeyed and floral. A slightly pine-y note. And citric. The pine and citrus together make it a touch sharp. Cinnamon. Lemon poppyseed muffins. Quince jelly.
Palate: A strange syrupy sweetness. Caramelized nuts. Very estery (those artificial banana notes that seem to be intrinsically tied to brewers yeast). Quite spicy. And again…boozy. The new make spirit is still showing through somehow. More lemon. Slightly dough-y (doughnut dough). Sauvignon blanc. Not unpleasant, but not something I’d go back for seconds of.
Finish: A bit of purple grape. And grape skin. A fleeting glimpse of mandarin (pith and all).
Thoughts: Meh. I waver between bored indifference and disappointment. I wanted to get excited about someone finally pursuing yeast as the volatile wee catalyst it really is, but this…well…this didn’t really work. I should note that 10 or 15 minutes in the glass does wonders for the nose. Sadly not so much for the palate.