This was the 2013 release in Glenmoangie’s “Private Edition” series. Not having cared overmuch for most of the others I’ve tasted (the Artein and Companta, for example) this is not in and of itself a huge recommendation for me. Then there’s the fact that this has been aged for 19 years in heavily charred virgin oak casks—I’ve not generally had a good track record with whisky aged in virgin oak casks, though I will grant that I’ve never had one aged for 19 years in virgin oak. It was expensive on release, as most of these Glenmorangie limited editions are, but at least it has an age statement.
There was also some amusing marketing blather on release. Bill Lumsden told The Scotsman that he “hid the barrels in a corner of a warehouse 19 years ago so the whisky didn’t get used in a blend”. Yes, Dr. Bill, that’s obviously the way to make sure one of your experiments doesn’t go astray, “hiding” it in a warehouse; it’s a wonder the children who run the distillery and warehouses didn’t stumble upon it while playing conkers during their lunch break.
Glenmorangie Ealanta (46%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Honey, malt, orange and a bit of toasted wood. Very fresh and rather nice. The toasted wood comes to the top alongside the citrus. With more time sweeter, muskier fruit begins to emerge: some tinned apricot, a bit of mango; a peppery note too. With more time a bit of ginger but it’s integrated nicely with the other notes. With a few drops of water the honey comes roaring back out (well, insofar as honey can roar) and there’s some toffee too now.
Palate: As on the nose at first but with a far spicier bite (clove, rye). The fruit emerges quickly, a bit sweeter here at first but then the tropical notes emerge. The wood is more pronounced and peppery on the second sip but it’s in perfect balance with the other notes. A little too thin in terms of texture. Nothing interesting with water.
Finish: Medium. The fruit continues for a bit but then the wood takes over and it’s here that it’s a little bit too much. Water pushes the wood back a bit but doesn’t bring out anything better.
Comments: I didn’t have the highest expectations but I must say I really liked this. Thanks to the age there’s no out of control gingeriness (as often emerges in young virgin oak whisky); and despite the heavy char it’s not a vanilla bomb at all. Only the mouthfeel and the lack of balance on the finish keep it from going higher. Okay, Bill Lumsden, stop dicking around with red wine casks and give us more like this.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!