It doesn’t seem that long ago that the core-range of many distilleries consisted of a ubiquitous 12yo, followed by an 18yo and a 25yo. The really daring distilleries would then inject something colourful into the portfolio, such as a vintage release or something with an exotic name.
Glenmorangie is a remarkable distillery for many reasons, but one of its most impressive aspects is its huge and diverse core range. The humble (yet sensational) Original continues to underpin the line up, but the flavour profile and offerings rapidly then diversify with the likes of the Extra Matured range (Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, and Nectar d’Or), followed by the older age statements – namely the 18yo and 25yo. The latter two – in particular – were notable for being exceptionally rich and luxurious.
But in today’s whisky world, nothing is constant for too long and there was a touch of sadness when we heard that the Glenmorangie 25yo was effectively being discontinued. However, any sadness you experience will instantly evaporate once you taste its replacement: The Glenmorangie 1990 Grand Vintage Malt.
Of course, this is not a permanent or fixed replacement, because – as you’ll have instantly surmised – a vintaged product is a finite resource that cannot be rolled out indefinitely! No, more critically, Glenmorangie has introduced a new series to its range, known as the Bond House No. 1 Collection. The 1990 is merely the first release in this new series.
1990 was a not-insignificant year for Glenmorangie: Warehouse No. 1 was converted into the stunning and extremely unique stillhouse that visitors now see today.
The 1990 Grand Vintage Malt had a little unveiling in Sydney last month where it was presented to an appreciative audience. As befits a luxury whisky these days, the bottling and the packaging is both striking and impressive. But it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts, and – not surprisingly – this whisky delivers.
The nose exudes tropical fruit. All Glenmorangie whiskies display exceptionally complex and feature-packed bouquets, but this is as complex as any whisky doing the rounds. There are hints of Glenmorangie’s signature citrus; sandalwood; clean oak and vanilla; plus the sweetness of confectionery and the aforementioned tropical fruits. A quarter of a century is a long time to be in contact with the wood, but this whisky remains fresh, vibrant, and not at all weighed down.
On the palate, the mouthfeel and flavours capture the perfect balance between sweetness, malt, oak, and spice. There’s a “light” dryness and warming spice that never strays too far from the centre, but the edges are rounded out with more fruit (particularly citrus), some dark chocolate, and a herbal (floral?) aspect that balances with and extends the spice.
The bottling comes from a vatting of both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, and the balance is near perfect, offering the best of both worlds. This whisky has been bottled at 43% ABV and is available in good stores now with an RRP of around $750. It’s one of the few premium offerings where the quality of the spirit justifies the price tag.