April 7, 2014
Glenmorangie keeps cranking out the special editions. This one I bought as a special treat for myself, since I rarely spend $99 on a single bottle. Companta has the distinction of being the first whisky I’ve tried to successfully marry single-malt scotch with red wine casks. Every previous attempt I’ve tasted, including Glenmorangie’s own Artein, have been abject astringent failures for me.
Companta is a convoluted vatting of standard 9 year-old ex-bourbon Glenmorangie that is finished for 5 years in red Grand Cru Burgundy wine casks from Clos de Tart (from Pinot Noir grapes), with a similar 10 year-old Glenmorangie finished for 8 years in “a lusciously sweet fortified wine from Cotes du Rhone” called Rasteau, made from Grenache grapes. The vatting contains 60% of the first, and 40% of the second. Now that’s a whisky spec I can get behind!
The resulting marriage is bottled at 46% ABV without chill-filtration, just like I like it.
Nose: First a waft of dense red grape juice and a raisin-y syrup note that is very similar to sherried Glenmorangie. From there, it diverges quickly into nutty nougat, milk chocolate, fresh (really fresh!) juicy red grapes. Well-layered, and of impeccable quality.
Palate: Thin to medium bodied. Tart red wine, dark chocolate-covered cherries, roasted mixed nuts. The tart notes are in no way astringent or tannic. The impression, overall, is of bright, fresh, red grapes, nuts, and chocolate. Delicious, especially as a dessert.
Finish: Medium-long. Echoes of the original aromas, nuts, chocolate, fruit, and some taffy. As it fades, the chocolate note becomes more like bittersweet chocolate or cocoa nib.
With Water: At 46%, it certainly doesn’t need intervention with water. A few drops do a little to heighten the fresh fruit, but at the expense of the chocolate. Mildly sweeter – caramel – on the palate, but with a bit more tongue burn. Really, I’d skip the water, it doesn’t need it.
Overall: A truly impressive dram. Glenmorangie malt has always been a canvas for barrel-induced flavor, but I haven’t always totally appreciated the paint. In this case, Glenmorangie’s Dr. Bill Lumsden pulls off two feats in one: an eminently enjoyable, rich, desserty, chocolatey confection, AND the first single-malt I’ve ever enjoyed that contains liquid aged in any kind of unfortified red wine cask. The red wine here, rather than being its typical astringent, seedy, grappa-like self, is decadent and blends flawlessly with the nutty and chocolatey notes. Instead of sour wine plus whisky, this is an integrated whole – fresh grapes dipped in dark chocolate-hazelnut fondue. Yum.
Is it worth $100? It was for me, but as a splurge. If you love sherried malt, wine-finished malt, or Glenmorangie in general and have $100 to spend on whisky, this will not disappoint. If you were on the fence, grab a bottle before it’s gone.