May 10, 2012
I spend so much time with Glenmorangie’s wine finishes (like their transcendent Nectar D’Or 12 year) that I forget the whisky has a “standard” baseline represented by its 12- and 18-year-old expressions. The first is matured only in ex-bourbon barrels, including the barrels sourced by the company in the forests of Missouri especially for their barrel program. This is a great example of Glenmorangie’s commitment to quality (wow I sound like my employer’s Marketing department) and their willingness to innovate. They actually go to the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, hand-pick slow-growth American white oak trees, air season them (rather than artificially quick-drying) for two years, and then lend them to bourbon producers to use in their own maturation. To me, that says something about the company’s dedication to doing it right. It’s also a sound strategy for ensuring the quality of their barrels, considering many Cambeltown distilleries lost their reputations by using fish barrels during American Prohibition! Way to learn from the past, Glenmorangie.
The flagship 18-year is a marriage of 70% ex-bourbon matured malt, and 30% oloroso sherry-finished (for 3 years). It is not advertised as being non-chill-filtered, which probably means it has been filtered. Ditto for the addition of coloring.
Nose: Lemony, with light notes of green pear, lemon-lime soda, and golden raisins. Subtle… too subtle?
Palate: Banana taffy, lemon drop, and nougat. Interesting flavor profile while remaining light and airy. Some woodiness intrudes.
Finish: Oaky with some bitter char notes. Medium-long. Turns nutty, with clear walnut skins.
Overall: Very nice, but super light, and not particularly concentrated despite the 18 years of aging. It’s mildly complex, with some interesting fruit notes that I didn’t expect. While not disappointing, this isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, and I can see why even Glenmorangie doesn’t try to price this above $99. Perhaps Glenmo malt really serves better as a canvas for wine finishes.