The Glenmorangie Private Editions are basically experiments – some more successful than others. (I wasn’t a fan of the previous Private Editions release – Glenmorangie Milsean.) Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, can have a whale of a time adding whiskies to different casks.
I wouldn’t personally call this innovation – the whisky has already been made, the ingredients all combined and distilled by this point, so really this is an experimentation and tinkering at the very end of the process with cask finishes, and the quest for ever more exotic things that lead to interesting brand stories. (I know much of the industry likes to emphasise what happens in the wood, as if the barley type, yeast, fermentation times, distillation times and so on, all did not matter – which they absolutely do.)
So what’s the story this time? Well the whisky – which I believe was 12 years old matured in ex-bourbon casks – has been finished in “sun-baked” Malmsey Madeira casks. Dr. Bill Lumsden arranged for American oak casks to be made and heavily toasted, before being seasoned with Malmsey wine and… left to bake in the heat of Madeira’s sun. I imagine this is more than being left around the cooperage due to some administrative error. (And to be clear, staves already tend to bake in the sunlight, but I suspect this is a different set-up.) The casks were then emptied… how precious was that Madeira to be disregarded so easily in the name of Scotch whisky!
Glenmorangie Bacalta is bottled at 46% ABV and costs around £80.
Glenmorangie Bacalta Review
On the nose: a nice maltiness for a Glenmorangie. There’s a gentle dose of red fruits: redcurrants, perhaps even strawberries. Quite fresh, with a little yeast. Floral honey. Notes of Jasmine and old roses. Then back to that core note of malted barley.
Not very complex, but it is nicely expressed.
In the mouth: much of the nose comes through: a deep, spicy maltiness, and a curiously lingering chilli pepper heat. Citrus, blends into honey, dried apricots, Seville orange marmalade, sun-dried tomatoes and dried hops. A lovely minerality that’s kind of lost against the the slightly dry, cloying and peppery back end. Indeed, that finish is a bit rough compared to the more sensual, floral notes, but altogether it makes it very moreish.
There’s a lot of talk about the wood in the sales patter, but this feels on par with a decent bottling of, say, Deanston, which I rate highly but it doesn’t get any of the sexy marketing stories (a good thing). Which is to say this whisky is good, and I enjoyed it, but there’s a dissonance with what they’re talking about. It isn’t exotic and it isn’t complex, but it is really very tasty indeed and I like it a lot. A great everyday dram. Perhaps a tenner too much, but if you can most definitely add it to your shelf.