If you’ve been paying attention in the last few days, you know there’s a new “Private Edition” Glenmorangie out, named ‘Bacalta’. This is the 8th private edition and The inspiration for this limited edition first began more than 20 years ago, with the release of Glenmorangie Madeira Finish, the world’s first whisky extra-matured in Madeira casks. For Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks, the memory of that expression lingered on. Determined to realize his vision of the perfect Madeira-finished Glenmorangie, he drew on the expertise gained from the Distillery’s years of pioneering work in cask management.Dr Bill arranged for bespoke American oak casks to be created and heavily toasted after which, the casks were seasoned to his exacting specifications by Malmsey wine – the sweetest and most prized of the Madeira wines – and baked to maturity within as the casks lay in the heat of Madeira’s sun. Emptied, shipped to Scotland and filled with specially selected spirit – already matured in ex-bourbon barrels.
I was kindly invited to a tasting event in Tel Aviv, which was quite special in a way – we were to taste the new release via video conference with Dr. Lumsden. The tasting was broadcast from Scotland, and we shared an audience with whisky a whisky forum in Vienna,Austria, and in Capetown , South Africa. Dr Bill led us through the tasting, starting with the ‘Original’ which is the baseline for all finished Glenmorangie, we then samples the Lasanta and last, the whisky of the day the Bacalta.
After the tasting session, Bill allowed for audience questions from all three crowds which was very nice. I managed to slip a question regarding the casks, wondering why Glenmorangie are using seasoned casks rather than real ex-Madeira casks, in addition i was inquiring if they ever tried using full term maturation in ex-Madeira casks as opposed to the relatively short period of time used for finishing the Bacalta. Dr. Bill responded that he tried using ordinary Madeira casks, and longer maturation in such casks, but that did not produce the right effect he was looking for, as he was truing to add fruitiness and sweetness, but without imparting a heavy effect of the wine on the whisky – what you actually get if you’re using a full term maturation something that does not work well with the Glenmorangie distillate.
I manged to sample quite a bit of the new liquid, and managed to write notes while tasting, so here goes:
Nose: Lovely sweet and fruity with candied apricot, a bit dirty with some flinty notes which combine really well with the sweet vanilla ice cream,honey and malt. Caramelized tangerine, and brown sugar. I think It does benefit nicely from some water, (even though it’s only at 46% abv ) which makes it even sweeter and boost the fruitiness making it more approachable .
Palate : Starts spicy and hot with some chilly and minty notes. As the nose suggests there’s also quite some fruit : peach, apricot, tinned grapefruit and candied orange along with earth, honey and quite some pepper as well. more exploration on the palate reveals some milk chocolate and a hint of exotic fruit.
Finish : Long – sweet and savory. Creamy vanilla, fudge, candied apricot with hints of mint, and pepper.
All in all this is quite a delicious whisky. One of the nicer Private releases in recent years. The wine is indeed not overpowering (as some would argue about the Companta), and the sweet Madeira really works well with the whisky, adding a nice fruity / spicy / sweet layer, that complements the liquid quite well. A lovely after meal dram, if I might say. At almost 100 EUR this is not cheap, but in today’s whisky climate, it’s not totally overpriced. mind you, 100 EUR will get you two bottles of excellent Lagavulin 16… so…
Good stuff at any rate. Glenmorangie fans – a no-brainer of a buy.. for the rest – well, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’d want a bottle, I guess.