Glenmorangie have launched their Grand Vintage Malt 1996, a 23 year old limited edition - the oldest whisky matured in Glenmorangie's bespoke casks.
Glenmorangie's search for the perfect whisky cask
Years before this single malt was created, Glenmorangie’s whisky makers began to imagine the perfect casks in which to age their signature spirit. Distilled in Scotland’s tallest stills, with necks as tall as a giraffe, it is uniquely delicate and ripe for experimentation. Recognising the opportunity for high quality casks to add further layers of flavour, Glenmorangie focussed on cask selection.
Hand-selected American White Oak
Their search for the perfect cask took them to the forests of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, in the US. Here, American white oaks tend to grow on north-facing slopes, where there is less light, more shade, and less moisture in the soil. As a result, their wood has a particularly tight-grained structure, with higher concentrations of the naturally-occurring compounds which bring the whisky silky, creamy textures and flavours of vanilla, coconut, almond and honey. The slow-growth trees which Glenmorangie selects have an abundance of early wood (formed from spring growth). Although late wood (grown in summer and autumn) typically makes up most of a tree, early wood is more porous. And so, it allows more contact between spirit and wood, bringing more wood flavours to the whisky.
Air-seasoned cask staves
These hand-selected oak trees were cut into staves, and then air-seasoned for about two years. This breaks down the internal structure of the wood to release softer, sweeter flavours than the more bitter, astringent notes that can come with quicker kiln drying.
Handcrafted and bourbon seasoned
The staves are then handcrafted into casks, lightly toasted and heavily charred to Dr Bill’s precise specifications, and filled with bourbon for at least four years, for seasoning. Only then, are the casks ready to make the journey to the Glenmorangie Distillery.
Glenmorangie's Grand Vintage Malt 1996
Each year since, under Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie has made small numbers of these bespoke casks, creating two releases of the limited edition Glenmorangie Astar, and the heart of Glenmorangie Original. Meanwhile, the casks laid down in 1996 continue to mature until Dr Bill decided to bottle some of these well-matured casks creating a whisky with an unique creamy depth and fruity, floral intensity. Aged entirely in first-fill casks, it’s the sixth release in the Bond House No. 1 Collection.
Glenmorangie's Bond House No. 1 vintage series
The whiskies of Glenmorangie’s Bond House No. 1 vintage series are created from some of the Distillery’s most prized parcels of aged whisky, for particularly delicious results. The series is named after the largest of Glenmorangie’s 19th century Bonded Warehouses. For generations, Warehouse No. 1 was home to casks of maturing spirit until in 1990, it was transformed into a majestic new still house.
Glenmorangie's Dr Bill says of the Grand Vintage Malt 1996
Dr Bill said: “Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1996 wonderfully demonstrates how we can bring our most extraordinary dreams to life. The oldest whisky we have ever aged in our bespoke casks, its fresh, floral aromas and luxuriously creamy tastes are gloriously enhanced by age. A delicious step on from Glenmorangie Astar, this limited edition will be adored by whisky lovers old and new.”
Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1996 tasting notes
Bottled at 43%, the tasting notes for Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1996 are:
Colour: Bright sunburst gold
Nose: Fresh, floral and perfumed, with hints of roses, carnations, jasmine and a curious herbal note like coriander. Luscious mandarin orange and pear follow, with a beautiful candy sweetness, reminiscent of mixed fruit jellies. A splash of water releases even more floral notes of carnation and geranium, along with some soft, buttery vanilla.
Taste: A zesty, citrus mouthfeel leads into a powerful burst of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, kept under control by the thread of soft, sweet vanilla and fudge. The finesse for a whisky of this age is quite remarkable, with gentle spices, such as ginger and sweet chilli and subtle oaky notes.
Finish: Delicate and dancing with almonds, pear and cake mix.
If you're interested in trying this whisky, Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1996 is available in the UK from the end of July with a recommended price tag of £635.