Meikle Tòir is the new peated range of whiskies from The GlenAllachie Distillery

Meikle Tòir is the new peated range from The GlenAllachie Distillery and its renowned master distiller Billy Walker

Billy Walker is a legendary figure in the Scotch whisky business. Now in his 70s, he is the type of person who, instead of capping an illustrious career by quietly retiring, goes ahead and buys another distillery of his own to remain free to create the whiskies he wants. The distillery in question is The GlenAllachie, which, under Walker’s tenure, released its first single malts in 2018. It has since establish itself as a platform for Walker’s adventurous spirit and focus on whisky connoisseurship.

The GlenAllachie Distillery. Photo by Meikle Tòir

The next phase has arrived in the form of a new peated range from The GlenAllachie. Branded as Meikle Tòir, which means ‘big pursuit’, the opening collection arrives as four five-year-old single malt expressions. This youthfulness is an especially interesting statement. Although more mature whiskies carry more prestige, whisky enthusiasts—the audience Walker is catering to—know that older does not necessarily mean better. Instead, it is all about the balance of spirit and cask—and one common opinion is that younger whiskies suit peated expressions better.

Secondly, and perhaps most interestingly, a five-year-old spirit means that these whiskies were not made from pre-existing cask stocks. Walker acquired The GlenAllachie in 2017, which means that Meikle Tòir whiskies were created entirely under his purview—distillation included. In other words, Meikle Tòir is purely and entirely a Billy Walker creation, and from the most unfettered, independent stage of his career at that.

Photo by Meikle Tòir

The GlenAllachie is a Speyside distillery, and the peat used in Meikle Tòir is as local to it as possible. This means a sweet, floral and herbaceous smoke rather than the heavier, vegetal type found in coastal and island peat. The base expression, The Original, uses three types of American oak casks: first-fill ex-bourbon, virgin oak and rye barrels that add a touch of spice. It is a spirit-forward whisky, balanced, precise and peat-centric but not in an overpowering fashion—the final phenol content is only about 35 PPM. Other products in the range also include The Sherry One, which uses Pedro Ximénez and oloroso casks, and The Chinquapin, matured in a special type of American Oak.

Left to right: The Original; The Sherry One; The Chinquapin One; The Turbo. Photo by Meikle Tòir

These expressions form part of the ongoing core line-up. The Turbo 2023 edition, on the other hand, begins a tradition of annual limited editions. Meikle Tòir, as a whole, is already considered small batch, as its spirit is created only during a six-week period in the summer, just before the stills are cleaned, so as to not contaminate the subsequent non-peated runs. The Turbo takes things to a different level, as it is formed by an extremely narrow spirit cut—‘the heart of the heart’—to capture the highest phenol content. The standard Meikle Tòir spirit is cut from around 74 to 58 per cent; The Turbo is collected from around 60 to 58 per cent. The results, after maturation in three American virgin oak casks and five oloroso hogsheads, is a 50 per cent ABV, 71 PPM spirit. It is intensely peated and quite astringent, but also balanced and not too heavy or punchy. With notes of honey, spices, and charred oak, it is a must-try for any whisky fan who wants to experience Billy Walker at his most selective.

Meikle Tòir