Allt-á-Bhainne 18 1996 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice

Thanks to /u/ScotchGuyTO for sharing this dram.

Not gonna lie, I really don’t have anything pithy or attempt at tying in pop culture or acting stupid or being actually stupid with this whisky.

The situation was perfectly normal (scratch that, was awesome). I was sitting down, drinking whisky in amounts not recommended on a regular basis, reviewing like a fiend and having a good time. All pre-Covid so we didn’t have to look away from one another less we kill one another (by accident this time).

One of the whiskies offered was Allt-á-Bhainne 18 1996 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice. You know, that much-beloved distillery everyone raves about, known far and wide, super easy to pronounce, much less find all the letters on a standard keyboard.

Okay: I’ve only had one other Allt-á-Bhainne, so I gotta. Because once they run out of distilleries to playfully mock me for not trying, my whisky friends (from the Internet and totally not made up) will call out the number of reviews.

So what do we have: A Speyside that has a decent age on it, ex-bourbon casks, and not cask strength but also not accountants’ strength. Normally this is buried in Chivas blends: Let’s see what it does without some help from some friends, shall we?

Price: € 90

Region: Speyside

Vintage: 1996

Bottled: 2014

Cask type: Refill American Hogsheads

Abv: 46%

Colour: 10Y 9/4

Nose: Mint, lime, white peach, grass

Very light and punchy. Nothing on the nose is from beyond the garden, which sounds much more ominous in my head than it should. A sweet good amount of mint/grass with some acidity. Quite nice.

Taste: Mint, Oreo, peach/Juicy Fruit gum, cumin

More mint, but now this cocoa/biscuit note, some more jumps in sweetness, and some almost sugar/fake fruit notes.

If the nose was all-natural then the taste is Karen’s worse nightmare: All those wonderful convenience store flavours that are mimicking nature and making something new.

Finish: Gravel, mint, butter, fruity/lime

Finish gets a bit earthy/spirit forward with this gravel note, and just echos some of the fruit and acidity from before. If anything I think watering it down hurt the finish the most, but it’s not “blech” it’s just “meh” with maybe a smattering of “huh”.

Conclusion: Minty sweet dram. Similar to brushing your teeth after eating Oreos, which I’m sure you’ve done many times.

Is this going to sell me on the distillery with the hardest name to type? Not really, but it’s better than the last one I had, so I can only assume they all keep getting better.

This was nice. It opens up a tasting well or at least follows a Lowland well enough. I am still annoyed at the old Connoisseurs Choice watering things down too much. Like maybe a few extra Abv. would have given a more flavourful finish.

Or maybe not. Maybe this is meant as a sipper. Happens after 18 years. Worth having a dram at the end of the day.

76/100

Scotch review #1326, Speyside review #361, Whisky Network review #1986

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