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Glenmorangie Bacalta Private Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)
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- ABV 46%
Director of distilling, Dr. Bill Lumsden, is well known as the innovative mind behind many of Glenmorangie's trials in whisky maturation. The Private Editions are essentially "the results of a range of experiments" that Lumsden deems successful enough to bottle. Bacalta is the eighth release in this annual series, and has a precursor which was discontinued in 2004: "‘[Bacalta]… grew out of frustration with the old Madeira Wood Finish," Lumsden explains. "I loved it, but it was extremely variable in terms of quality, and eventually I had to discontinue it. I couldn’t get the right quality barrels in the numbers I was looking for." The whisky was eventually superseded by 'Nectar d’Or' - Glenmorangie's Sauternes Wood Finish.This is Lumsden's last go at the Madeira project. To pull it off, he had bespoke 250 litre American oak casks heavily toasted, then seasoned with (sweet) Malmsey wine and left to bake in the heat of Madeira's sun for two years, hence the name, 'Bacalta' - Scots Gaelic for ‘baked’. According to Lumsden, finding a Madeira house that was willing to co-operate in this undertaking was a challenge in itself. Following the 'baking period', the Madeira wine was discarded. The empty barrels were shipped to Scotland to fill with whisky which had initially been matured in ex-bourbon barrels for around 10 years. Lumsden concedes that the procedure is an expensive one. "...these projects are very time-consuming – they’re a real labour of love – and very costly: wood from the States to Craigellachie, manufactured into casks, casks from there to Madeira, seasoned and then back to Glenmorangie in Scotland. " Then, after another two years of maturation, there's no guarantees on the final result. Lumsden was aiming for "a nice combination of sun-baked goodness with candied, caramelised fruits." After two years of repeated tasting, he felt the final product was good enough to be slotted in as the next Private Edition. "I wanted a sweet, mead-like character from the wine – a honeycomb thing" he comments. "...a curious flintiness in terms of the palate; an impression of menthol or mint-flavoured chocolate. I think I got most of those flavours in there." The total outturn has not been revealed. Tasting notes: Deep gold colour shines brightly in the glass. First sniffings detect warming alcohol with semi-sweet aromas of honey, vanilla malt, oxidised grapes plus a touch of pipe tobacco. Further aeration accents hazelnut, chocolate, nougat - think Toblerone bar - but with the sweetness balanced by menthol freshness. The palate entry is lean, warming. Builds to an unexpectedly spicy, nicely rounded whisky with a fusion of dates, cocoa and peppermint. Finish is fuller, spicier with candied orange, wine soaked pears and clove. Aftertaste adds suggestions of apricot tart and lightly honied malt tempered by refreshing mintiness in the fade. Deceptively complex and long. Certainly one of the best Madeira influenced whiskies we've tasted to date.
46% Alc./Vol. and non chill-filtered.