Glenmorangie Tusail – the latest Private Edition

The good folks at Glenmorangie continue to explore new flavours and forge new paths in their pursuit of interesting and tasty whiskies.  Well, I say “good folks”, but perhaps “the good doctor” would be more appropriate, as it is Dr Bill Lumsden who has once again pushed the boundaries and played around with the ingredients.

Whilst it would be easy to rest on their laurels and be satisfied with their core range aged expressions (The Original, 18yo, 25yo, etc) and the Extra-Matured set (Quinta Ruban, Lasanta, and Nectar d’Or), Glenmorangie continues to add to their portfolio with their Private Edition whiskies.  These include releases such as Ealanta, Companta, Taghta, etc, and you can read my previous pieces on these whiskies here and here.  But let’s get to the point:  Glenmorangie’s latest release and the new kid on the block is the Tusail.  (Gaelic for originary)

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How wood you like that?

A few years ago, I was privileged to attend the launch of a new, premium expression of Glenmorangie.  Appropriately named “Pride”, it was a very limited bottling of a special and unique whisky.  The spirit was distilled in 1981 and initially spent 18 years maturing in Glenmorangie’s best ex-bourbon casks.  In 1999, the whisky was then transferred into some Sauternes barriques sourced from Château d’Yquem, where it then spent a further 10 years of extra-maturation (or finishing, in the old parlance).

The result, not surprisingly, was incredible.  Three compounding factors are at play here:  It begins with Glenmorangie’s famed light, fragrant, and complex spirit (malt, citrus, and spice), which is then framed and shaped by the bourbon casks.  (Vanilla, oak, and sweetness now enter the equation).  And, finally, you then have the influence of the sauternes casks, which inject exotic, dessert-like undertones, sweet fruits, spice and more toasty oak.   A mere three bottles originally found their way to Australia, and took pride of place at three very lucky bars for sale by the dram.   A new incarnation of Pride (vintage 1978) was released last July and if you can score yourself a wee dram, it’s worth hunting down.  (The price of an entire bottle is sadly beyond the means of most of us.  And if you’d like to explore that theme a little further, read this article here).

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Glenmorangie “The Taghta”

The latest (and very special) release from Glenmorangie had its first Australian outing on 17th October when it was showcased as the Welcome Dram at the Spring Tasting of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Sydney.

 

As attendees entered the room for the tasting evening, they were handed a dram of this deliciously-amber looking whisky, but were not told what it was.

 

A short while later during the official welcome and introduction for the night, a quick straw poll was taken with the question, “Who liked this whisky?”   Every hand in the room went up, and it was then that its identity and story was told.

 

Glenmorangie Taghta (pronounced too-tah) is being billed as a crowd-sourced whisky.   It’s not all too dissimilar to what Glenlivet did with their Guardian’s release late last year.  The difference on this occasion is that the crowd (the so-called “Cask Masters”) came from 30 different countries and participated in every part of the process: The bottle design, the labelling, the photography, and – most importantly of all – the selection of the whisky.

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Ardbeg and Auriverdes

Ardbeg Day and Auriverdes


Ardbeg. The very name conjures up evocative images, flavours, and pre-conceived ideas. For many, it means a big, peaty, smoky, Islay whisky. For others, it represents complexity, refinement, sweetness, and quality. Some link the name to the decline and downturn of the Scotch industry in the 1980’s, resulting in distillery closures and cutbacks. Many of those same folks also link the name to a Phoenix-like resurrection, given the distillery came back from the dead in 1997 and now struts the roost with style and finesse.

For me, it is all of those things, plus one more: Fun.

Ardbeg small

Ardbeg is a fun brand. The distillery and its blending/creation team can produce some of the most refined, stylish, and unbelievably-good drams on the planet, but the brand has never become stuffy or weighed down under a Rolls Royce-like persona. Rather, Ardbeg presents itself as being fun, vibrant, innovative, inclusive, cheeky, and left-of-centre.   And its whiskies are all the more endearing as a result.

The Ardbeg Committee adds another string to the bow – a global club for Ardbeg drinkers, fans, and enthusiasts. It started back in 2000, originally delivering special once-off releases for its members that blitzed the competition. (One of the early Committee Reserve bottlings in 2002 was one of the whiskies of the decade and still rates up there on my list of all-time greats!) Today, the features and activities of the Committee have grown and expanded, including the now annual Ardbeg Day, which continues to gain traction and attention each year.

Ardbeg Day this year falls on May 31st and is themed around the Football World Cup. Ardbeg Embassies all around the globe will feature Ardbeggian celebrations, and whilst Australian events are yet to be announced at time of writing, you can join the Committee and keep up to date at www.ardbeg.com

The distillery produces a new, special Limited Edition whisky to coincide with Ardbeg Day each year, and 2014 is no different, with the forthcoming release of Ardbeg Auriverdes. The name comes from auri (gold, representing the colour of the whisky) and verdes (green, the colour of Ardbeg’s bottles and brand). Join the gold and green together, and you get the link to this year’s World Cup, being hosted in Brazil.   The whisky itself was matured in American oak casks (quercus alba) that were produced with specially toasted ends or heads. Toasting the oak typically results in more lignins and vanillins being released and made accessible by the spirit, imparting richer sweetness to the spirit, and – not surprisingly – vanilla flavours.   The whisky’s creator, Dr Bill Lumsden, has pioneered new wood treatments and cask maturation techniques and finishes over the years, and this effort is – once more – a winner.

Ardbeg warehouse

It would be dull or boring if the Auriverdes was just another shade or two away from the regular Ardbeg releases on the flavour spectrum, and Auriverdes is certainly a different Ardbeg. The nose is sweet, intriguing, and inviting; throwing off the textbook Ardbeg smoke, with traces of vanilla, citrus, and spice. On the palate, the peat is not as intense as regular variants, and it reminded me a little of Blasda, a lowly peated Ardbeg released several years ago. However, turning down the peat allows other features to shine brighter, and I found marzipan, almonds, vanilla, custard, sweetness, and a delicious creamy maltiness that left a wonderful footprint on the finish – with even just a nip of salt to round out the experience and remind you that this is from Scotland’s west coast.

Auriverdes will be available through good whisky stockists from next month, retailing for roughly $190. And if you can’t wait to get to your bottle store, get along to your nearest Ardbeg Day event on May 31st.

Slainte,

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