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Mizunara cask whisky revealed as second 50th anniversary series release

Prominent whisky maker Billy Walker has marked an astonishing milestone with the second release in the commemorative Past, Present & Future Series

THE GlenAllachie Distillery today announces the penultimate bottling in The Past, Present & Future Series as an ultra-rare Japanese cask finished Single Malt Scotch Whisky: The GlenAllachie Billy Walker 50th Anniversary Present Edition 16-year-old Mizunara Virgin Oak Cask Finish. 

Launched in May, the landmark range honours foremost whisky master Billy Walker’s remarkable half-century-long career in the Scotch whisky industry, with each release symbolising a key milestone for the veteran blender.  

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The Present Edition is revealed today as a Mizunara Virgin Oak Cask Finish (UK RRSP £280), Walker’s first-ever use of the highly unusual oak species, representing the pioneering wood policy he is currently implementing at The GlenAllachie Distillery. 

With a particular focus on experimenting with interesting and rare casks from small-scale, premium producers, the Speyside distillery’s annual cask budget for 2022 stands at an eye-watering £2 million (US $2.6m).

The ground-breaking 16-year-old underwent a lavish maturation journey beginning in rich Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso Sherry wood before being transferred into incredibly uncommon Mizunara virgin oak casks with a medium level of toasting and charring. 

Mizunara is a very scarce species of Japanese oak rarely utilized in the whisky sphere due to its expense and the multitude of challenges it poses to production.

Its tendency to twist as it grows creates issues for stave production, and its porous nature – which on one hand is beneficial, allowing for greater interaction between whisky and wood – makes it much more inclined to leak during maturation, impacting the final outturn. Additionally, the trees must grow to be around 200 years old before being felled; twice the age of most oaks used for casks.

Following a luxurious two-step maturation journey, the consequential chestnut-hued single malt boasts indulgent notes of dark chocolate fondant, forest fruits, stem ginger and coconut shavings.

Due to the scarcity of Mizunara oak, the release is limited to just 2,900 bottles globally; each proudly presented at a high strength of 48% ABV, without added colouring or chill filtration.

Walker, who was inducted into Whisky Magazine’s prestigious Hall of Fame last year, has spearheaded The GlenAllachie Distillery since 2017. In that time, it has racked up enviable awards including the fiercely contested title of World’s Best Single Malt (World Whiskies Awards, 2021).

Commenting on his historic release, Walker said:

“As a Master Distiller, I’m regularly asked what proportion of the flavour profile of a whisky I attribute to the wood, to which I answer at least 70 per cent. As a chemist, I find supervising the flavour development of our whisky as it interfaces with interesting cask types truly fascinating. One thing I’ve absolutely learnt in the last 50 years is that there are no short cuts to achieving quality.”

“I’m incredibly proud to release my first ever Mizunara virgin oak finished whisky; a cask type that has of course been on my radar to experiment with, not deterred by its undeniable challenges! I was confident that it would perfectly complement the bold nature of The GlenAllachie, and we’re delighted with the outcome. A very proud moment for a special personal milestone.”

The Present Edition joins the first release in the range, The Past Edition: 16-year-old 100% Sherry Matured Single Malt Scotch Whisky, released to great acclaim in May 2022.

The GlenAllachie Billy Walker 50th Anniversary Present Edition can be purchased through global specialist retailers, with a UK RRSP of £280.

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