Review: Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 9 Years Old and Aultmore 9 Years Old

We last wrote about the Swiss brand Chapter 7, a newer independent bottler of single malt Scotch, in mid-2017. Now the outfit has released two new releases in the U.S., both single cask bottlings offered at cask strength. Let’s check the duo out.

Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 9 Years Old – Allt-a-Bhainne is a Speyside distillery in the hands of the Chivas Brothers, built primarily to pump out malt for blends. This rare single malt expression (aged entirely in a first fill bourbon hogshead) initially shows nothing much special. The nose is green and a bit weedy, with heavy granary overtones and a raw pungency to it. The palate is fortunately much more enticing than the nose would indicate, offering quite a slug of spice, a bit of cinnamon red hots, some late-developing dark chocolate, and a soothing, bourbon barrel-driven vanilla finish. It’s rough around the edges, and would clearly have benefited significantly from extra aging, but it’s not without some measure of charm. 121.4 proof. B- / $65

Chapter 7 Aultmore 9 Years Old – Speyside’s Aultmore has a little more street cred, and single malts from this distillery are easier to come by. This 9 year old is bourbon cask aged but finished in an oloroso sherry cask. Again, though, the nose betrays the whiskey’s youth, though the sherry cask manages to give it an aromatic lift. That said, it’s underpinned by ample granary notes, a heavy barley pungency that pushes past whatever citrus and spice notes the sherry cask have given it. The palate is a bit of a bruiser at over 62% abv, and the sherry and underlying grain notes remain in serious conflict on the tongue. It’s perhaps a touch nutty from time to time, but simply too undercooked to show much charm. Water helps. 124.4 proof. B- / $70

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