Glenmorangie will be forever in my mind a “blank slate” malt, which takes to barrel finishes like Velcro. Glenmo, to me, has no house style and changes itself, chameleon-like, with each new release. The 8th “Private Edition” (what exactly is private about these?) Bacalta, for instance, is aged in standard ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Malmsey Madeira wine casks. Apparently “Bacalta” is Scots Gaelic for “Baked”, and these casks were, at one point, “baked under the sun” or some nonsense. Personally, I think that means someone forgot the shipment from Madeira had arrived in the parking lot and left the barrels there for a few weeks before someone brought them inside, but maybe I’m a skeptic.
Whatever your feelings for NAS whiskies, ridiculous names with stories to go with them, or $110 annual releases, this damn stuff is tasty. I’m a sucker for round, malty whisky finished in sweet fortified wine casks, and Bacalta delivers on that front, at least.
The Internet, the wisdom and reliability of which Shall Not Be Questioned, has revealed that Bacalta (like most Glenmorangie Private Edition releases) began as 10 year-old “Original” Glenmorangie, and was aged for 2 years in the madeira casks. We can be reasonably assured that the whisky is thus 12 years of age. Without an age statement on the bottle, however, that could all be a giant lie. Caveat emptor, and all that.
Oh and hey, LVMH, don’t think I haven’t noticed that these annual “money pit” special editions have been stealthily increasing in price every year. That said, I guess one shouldn’t be looking at products from Louis Vuitton for value.
Nose: Raw honey, light jammy resin (think marmalade), and sultanas (golden raisins) greet the nose. Deeply sweet, this is unarguably a dessert whisky, and bears (so far) a striking resemblance to Glenmorangie’s Nectar D’Or. There may be more depth here, however, with an interplay of bubble gum, tutti-fruiti, glazed scones, and apricot jam. Yum.
Palate: Thin body. A mild initial tongue burn gives way to more honey sweetness. Golden raisins again, lemon bundt cake, cake frosting, candied ginger, and orange creamsicle.
Finish: Medium-long and warming. Raw honey pervades, and fades with more apricot, marzipan, and absolutely no bitterness. Decadent.
With Water: A few drops of water seem to have no effect, except maybe to make the liquid’s texture on the tongue more silky or syrupy (odd). Water is fully not necessary with this, and I prefer it at the bottled strength.
Overall: A fantastic dram for those that like sweet things in their whisky. The madeira effect is less of wine and more of deeply sugary treats. All of the tastes and smells that come to mind are dripping with crystalized sugar and deep, concentrated fruits. Unlike a heavily sherried whisky, where those fruits are dark and jammy and resinous, these are fresh and sweet and vibrant. Objectively, Bacalta tastes like an amped-up Nectar D’Or with fewer tart fruits and more honey and stewed stone fruits. Absolutely lovely, but spendy. This is probably only worth $110 to you if you’re comfortable, in general, with dropping more than $100 on a bottle of whisky. If not, stick to Nectar D’Or and enjoy the 50% discount.