One more step towards that wood obsession


I mostly consider myself more a writer than a journalist, solely regarding the fact that I have a strong handicap: I don’t know how to write about a subject if I don’t feel a personal connection to it. Maybe it sounds a little pretentious and lazy of me, but I always think to myself, ‘If people want cold facts, they are better off with reading the press release.’ And then, I switch to another topic.

Which is absolutely not the case with Glenmorangie.

In fact, the brand is mostly responsible for the start of my pretty intense love story with scotch. By intense love story, I mean spending most of my day reading all I can about the subject and sending passionate text messages to my friends asking for their opinions about my next purchase, before coming back home and pouring myself a pretty reasonable ounce of my favorite spirit. At this point, it’s almost a lifestyle.

All that because two years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting and enjoying a private tasting with Karen Fullerton, global brand ambassador for Glenmorangie (if you have some time, you can read a summary of that meeting written by my very impressed, younger self here). After the interview, I still remember calling my boyfriend to inform him that I was very into scotch now and what was his opinion about moving to Scotland. Is it what we call love at first sight?

Over the years, I obviously fell in love with other brands, while keeping a special place in my heart – and my home bar – for Glenmorangie. I also make sure to never miss one of their events, especially when it’s the launch of one of their private editions. So, you can easily understand how I made sure to clear up some time in my schedule when I learned that they were about to release a very special bottle for their ninth edition.

Glenmorangie Spìos – the name of the new kid on the block – has been fully-matured in American rye whiskey casks, which aligns with the trending exploration of whisky and wood and rebirth of everything rye. A mix that can surprise at first, knowing that Glenmorangie Original is best known to be delicate and full of citrus, while rye usually is less subtle with a spicy and minty aftertaste.

“I believed our smooth house style would complement the nuances of ex-rye casks. So, 10 years on from my first involvement with it, the challenge was finding the right casks,” explains Dr. Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, whisky creation, and whisky stocks. This quote itself perfectly represents how the wood is without a doubt one of the most important factors that goes into giving flavour to any single malt of quality.

So, how was it to try the final result?

Here, I won’t lie and pretend I can give you precise and infallible notes regarding what it tastes like. I am actually surprised when I read the exact same tasting notes and appreciative comments coming from different writers and experts – mostly old men belonging to the same mafia – like they were all sampling it in the exact same way or like they had just spent the night messaging each other before reaching consensus.

I mean, do you really care if I tell you that I tasted something herbal and spicy, like an explosion of clove and ginger with a dry finish? What I can tell you that might actually truly interest you on the other hand, is how the experiment actually works and perfectly showcases what can be accomplished using the Glenmorangie Original as the starting point. It is actually exciting to say a brand mostly perceived by many as mainstream still trying to innovate and challenge themselves. Playing with unorthodox methods might actually be the future of an industry that struggles with reproducing the same thing over and over again. You go, Glenmorangie.

Is it my favorite product by the brand? No. I still prefer the previous edition (Bacalta) and Glenmorangie Signet, which I found way more exciting.  But I will definitely enjoy a dram or two while listening to The Last Shadow Puppets on my next night at home. Drinking scotch, or any whisky really, should be about pleasure and specifically that selfish moment when you allow yourself to disconnect from the world to enjoy your first sip, no matter which bottle you decide to spend the night with. Except if it is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. In that case, there is a specific place for you in hell and I am very sorry for you.