Having not tried much Glenmorangie before now, it would appear that I was best suited to become the impartial Malt guinea pig to review this travel retail exclusive set.
Said to have been inspired by the lift on travel restrictions, Glenmorangie has urged us to rediscover the sweet (literally) wonder of travel with their new travel retail releases: The Accord, The Elementa, and The Tribute. Having no intention to travel anywhere far currently (because my six-month-old son hates going anywhere more than six feet outside the house), I thought it would be interesting to see if it could reacquaint and reinvigorate my (pre-kids) love for travelling.
Without unnecessarily regurgitating history, I will summarise that Glenmorangie’s whiskey creators have always regarded themselves as dedicated to crafting single malts since 1843. What I do like about the distillery manager, Dr Bill Lumsden, is that he is never afraid to challenge the norm, always asking, “What if?”
With a PhD in biochemistry and decades of experience, Dr Bill has got the skillset needed to bring these ideas to life. Within his 25-year tenure, expressions such as Glenmorangie’s homeland (the Cadboll Estate series), the magic of a cake moment (Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake), a cup of coffee (Glenmorangie Signet) have all challenged traditional whisky-making and production. A Tale of Cake and Signet both attract decent scores from Taylor and Dora in their reviews, respectively.
Having been fortunate enough to have been selected to try this “world exclusive” by our esteemed editor, Taylor, I was very excited to see a massive Glenmorangie box come through the door. Now, this was an incredible sight and got my expectations immediately set at a high level. After opening the package, my expectations and excitement level dropped somewhat but – not to be unappreciative – I delved in. I have never received anything whisky-related for free before (at the time of writing). Still, the box could have easily been half the size, and – if compared to the likes of the new Diageo Special Releases, – it was a bit disappointing.
The box contained a various assortment of goodies and “links” to the world of travelling. There was a sample bottle of each Glenmorangie whisky in the exclusive travel range: The Accord, The Elementa and The Tribute. There was also a sweet treat to pair with each expression, inspired by the flavours and provenance of each whisky; to rediscover the “sweet wonder” of travel. A personalised Moleskine journal to record my travel plans and memories and ingredients to create a key serve cocktail with “The Tribute.” A decent set!
When reading about the whiskies, it seems that rather than focusing on geographical connections to the whiskies in terms of cask finishing, the emphasis is on the techniques used in whisky making. So, for the Accord, its inspiration came from “exploring the classic art of marrying casks.” For the Elementa, it focuses on the pioneering of wood finishing and “revealing the depths of flavour a skilful finish can bring.” Lastly, for the Tribute, the central aspect concentrates on the use of peat, as it is within Glenmorangie’s heritage. So, it initially appears to me that the only aspects of travel reacquaintance is the fact that they are travel retail, as well as the geographical connotation of the “sweet treat.”
So, on to the whiskies then. I know that travel retail gets some stick, but ,considering this is also my first time trying a travel retail range, I am intrigued to see if the myth lives up to the reality.
All three whiskies are available from Heathrow airport, or if you’re in a rush, you can reserve and collect via the boutique here.
Starting with The Accord: this is a “fruity and rich” 12-year-old whisky that marries bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, bottled at 43% ABV. The retail price is £59.
Glenmorangie The Accord – Review
Colour: Deep bronze.
On the nose: Interesting concoction of dried fruit initially, raisins and sultanas predominantly. Lots of boozy Christmas cake and satsumas to boot. There’s a gentleness to it as well; notes of vanilla and cream take it down a notch and balance it well.
In the mouth: A real mixture of sweetness here. Some coffee notes mixed with the sweetness of red apples, caramel wafers and toffee crisp bar make it a delightful palate indeed. On the finish, lots of warmth from the spice; pleasant but short warmth.
Sweet Treat: a snickerdoodle cookie from the Primrose bakery. A lovely treat, which balanced the sweet and spice in equal measure.
The Elementa is a “spicy and deep” 14-year-old whisky finished in new charred oak casks, bottled at 43% ABV. The price is £68.
Glenmorangie The Elementa – Review
Colour: Pale gold.
On the nose: There’s a clear zestiness that comes through quite nicely for this one; lemons and oranges have quite an influence, combined with a fruity note of ripened plums combined with the sweetness of chocolate there. Then there’s a nutty note also, and some vanilla for good measure too.
In the mouth: A solid dousing of spice here, with ginger being dominant. There’s also a nice sweetness that comes through from the palate too; I picked out parma violets. The finish lingers, with a residual sweetness balanced by a dry spiciness, including the merest suggestion of cumin.
Sweet Treat: An all-American lemon and walnut muffin from Outsider Tart.
And lastly, the Tribute: a “zesty and rounded” 16-year-old whisky created from a “heritage spirit batch,” bottled at 46% ABV. The price is £85.
Glenmorangie The Tribute – Review
On the nose: First note that comes through is smoke, but nothing too Isla-esque; it’s subtle and inviting. Some sweetness comes through, too, almost aniseed and liquorice-like. It also has that Glenmorangie Speyside signature floral note- an exciting nose that makes the palate more interesting.
In the mouth: More smoke comes through this time, and it’s still not too overpowering but smooth and sweet. Towards the end, there’s a lovely salted dark chocolate note, intertwingled with some caramel too. Some fruitiness too, more zest, slight lemon and lime notes present too. I picked up some love hearts too! I want the finish to last a bit longer, given my love for Islay whiskies. The smoke carries on but fades off slightly but ends with more sweetness; the toffee and caramel, especially from the palate carry on throughout. A medium-length finish with a light peat touch, fading into more classic Glenmorangie citrus fruit, sweet vanilla, toffee and oak smoke.
Sweet Treat: Two Scottish tea cakes! One infused with zesty marmalade and the other lemon mallow, both from the Marshmallowist. I’m wasn’t a tea cake type of guy, but now I most certainly am. This isn’t Marshmallow-review, but these are really good and add a luxurious aspect to the tasting.
Well, that was interesting. Firstly, I’m not sure if I get the geographical connections to the whisky, to be honest. I like the idea of the attempt to reinvigorate people’s sense of self-discovery after a miserable year for all of us, but I’m not sure the whiskey does that. The sweet treat does, but I’m not sure I’d go travelling to get a fancy marshmallow. Anyway, the whiskies themselves are very different, which I enjoyed, considering it’s my first taste of Glenmorangie.
The Tribute just nicks it for me, given that I haven’t forgotten my love for smoky whiskies. The balance is just right on this for me: a lovely combination of sweetness and smoke. Would I consider buying a bottle when I’m jetting off somewhere? Well, considering there’s an offer on currently for 10% off, I probably would!
The Elementa is another very nice drop; it focuses more on the spice for me. Well priced with another 10% off, I would consider buying a bottle… but, in that price range, there is stiff competition. Lastly, the Accord is good but lacked the kick of the Tribute for me, personally.
Are travel retail whiskies bang average? Not for me; overall, this range would be well placed in any whisky shop and on my shelf.
Whiskies and sweets were provided by Glenmorangie; per Malt policy, this does not affect our notes or scores. Bottle images courtesy of Heathrow Reserve & Collect.