Glenmorangie is releasing a whisky that has been aged entirely in ex-rye casks – the first ever scotch whisky that has done so.
Called Glenmorangie Spios, which is the Scottish-Gaelic for ‘spice’, it’s the ninth release in the limited-edition Private Edition range.
‘It’s just one of these things, we’re always trying new things, I have a wish list of things I want to try, but I have to say that when I first moved into this job in 1998, the original wish list that I had, I’ve managed to tick about half of it off. And rye casks were a part of that,’ Dr Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation at The Glenmorangie Company, told Imbibe.
‘Glenmorangie is the pioneer of using American oak ex-bourbon barrels, which we first used in 1947, so it seemed quite natural to me to try rye casks but the challenge back then was that rye was on life support, you couldn’t get hold of it anywhere.’
While this is the first scotch whisky aged entirely in ex-rye cask, Johnnie Walker did launch a blend that had been finished in rye cask in 2015, something that Lumsden viewed with ‘a certain level of interest and frustration’.
There’s no mistaking the American influence on the nose and the palate, with the classic fudge and golden syrup characters, but the whisky certainly lives up to its name, with a slowly insistent spicy character growing from the mid-palate right to the finish. A nice lick of eucalyptus offsets the heat with a cooling breeze.
Lumsden thinks that Spios is in the same flavour camp as The Original and Nectar D’Or, with complexity, subtlety and the sweet notes from the American oak.
When asked for his thoughts on the experiment, Lumsden said: ‘I’m very delighted, it’s maintained the key characters of Glenmo in terms of subtlety and complexity, but I’m also pleased that the notes from the rye are definitely discernible in there.
‘I had to approach [the project]with no expectations, because I was concerned that we wouldn’t pick up any differences between that and The Original. I’m not convinced I’d buy more, for the simple reason I’ve already done that. Given that the impact is quite subtle, probably not. Private Edition is about experimentation – the experiment’s been done.’
46% abv, £79, Moët Hennessy UK, 020 7808 4400