Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 year 46%

After The Original, our Glenmorangie tasting continued with the Lasanta – a word that derives from the Gaelic for warmth and passion.

We were led through the experience by Dr Bill Lumsden and Brendan McCarron who shared their insights into the whisky…

They shared how the Lasanta first spent 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, much like The Original, followed by 18 – 36 months in ex Olorosso and PX sherry casks. The sherry cask finish is what Bill credited for providing a very “up fruit, spicy, ginger, unctuous” character that is both “classic yet enhanced.”

There was no doubt this whisky gained much of its character from its sherry finish… Impressions of:

  • Creamy, caramel custard, sweet spices, vanilla on the nose, with substance, good body, raisins, more creme on the palate followed by a dry, chocolate nutty spice finish…

Pairing talk turned to enjoying with a good Monte Cristo cigar, or a rich fruity dessert, a ginger chilli chocolate… very much an ‘autumn’ whisky for cooler weather….

Well after the main tasting, when we returned to the Lasanta, found that it kept is character in a most satisfying way.

And what do the formal Glenmorangie tasting notes have to say?

Elegant but full bodied this whisky has spent ten years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being extra-matured for a further two years in Oloroso and PX Sherry casks from Jerez in Spain.

  • Aroma: Warm spices mix with smooth chocolate covered raisins, honeycomb and caramel toffee.
  • Taste: Deliciously sweet sherry flavoured sultanas, orange segments, walnuts and butterscotch combine to create complex warm spices.
  • Finish: Long and satisfying finish with spiced orange and chocolate covered hazelnuts.

We sampled the Lasanta at the launch of Glenmorangie’s Bacalta in February 2017.

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Glenmorangie Original 10 year 40%

Our Glenmorangie Bacalta Launch tasting linked Dr Bill Lumsden and Brendan McCarron in Scotland with whisky afficianados in Mumbai, Sydney and Seoul. It began with the foundation of all Glenmorangies… The Original 10 year:

“We’ve found there are 140 different flavours in our Original” — Bill Lumsden

An appropriate place to start, we sniffed, sipped, swished and savoured…

As we sipped, Bill and Brendon shared their observations, augmented by those enjoying in Mumbai:

  • Creamy and complex, sweet butter, some sweet spices such as ginger, gentle nuttiness with almond, coconut, sunshine like character…

The Sydney folks observed that the Original’s character is:

  • Fresh applies, light… sunshine and spring like

Talk then turned to pairing with white fish, shrimp, foie gras… and more fancifully to enjoying at a:

  • “Chinese restaurant in Taipei with steamed fish seasoned with soy sauce and sweet ginger!”

As an opportunity to revisit The Original in a formal virtual four country tasting, it was indeed a unique experience… an excellent base for the whiskies to come… The Lasanta and Bacalta!

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Glenmorangie’s Bacalta Launch

Many months ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, I found myself at the Four Seasons hotel lured by whisky. Up on the screen was Dr Bill Lumsden and Brendan McCarron in Scotland, us in Mumbai, others in Seoul and Sydney…

We were all there to be introduced to the latest experiment producing the 8th release in Glenmorangie‘s annual Private Edition series – Bacalta.

However this being Luis Vitton Moet Hennessy, an entire experience was curated for us… depending on time zone, participants enjoyed a multi course lunch, early evening repast or dinner… liberally accompanied by Glenmorangie whiskies.

Then, we all joined together to walk through a tasting of:

  • The Original 10 year 43% Foundation of all Glenmorangie “with 140 flavours” — Bill Lumsden
  • Lasanta 12 year 46% – Classic yet enhanced …Creamy, caramel custard, sweet spices 
  • Bacalta 46% – Like rich baked fruit syrup with an almost smoky quality… delicious and one where less is more.

An impressive and most enjoyable experience.

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Ardbeg Corryvreckan 57.1%

There are times when you crave full-on peat. Over the years, we’ve explored many whiskies with varying levels of peat.

And in the peat department? Ardbeg always delivers.

Ardbeg Corryvecken

Ardbeg – Corryvreckan 57.1%

  • Colour – Deep ruby colour
  • Nose – “Good evening madame, we’d like to present peat, peat and oh… more peat!”
  • Palate – Sweet sour peat chewy, a bit of licorice
  • Finish – Kick ass finish, don’t let the peat fool you – the glorious sweetness remains
  • Water – Adding a dash of water brings out the sweet and spicy element, however most preferred this powerful whisky neat!

Our verdict? “Oh baby, bring it on!” (that means we liked it!)

Here’s what the Ardbeg folks have to say about their Corrycreckan:

This unique and highly peaty whisky is named after the Gulf of Corryvreckan (from the Gaelic Coire Bhreacain meaning “cauldron of the speckled seas” or “cauldron of the plaid”), which is a powerful vortex tide that empties into the sea.

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200 years of Ardbeg – Interview with Bill Lumsden

May around the world was full of official “Ardbeg Day” celebrations commemorating 200 years of Ardbeg.

Fans of peaty Islay whiskies at some point or the other find their way to Ardbeg. Many keep coming back. You can usually spot an Ardbeg poking around in my whisky cabinet – currently it is the Uigeadail.

Ardbeg 200

I thought what better timing to share a short extract from an interview with Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stock, The Glenmorangie Company in Delhi on 10 April 2015 for Man’s World India. While primarily the interview focused on Glenmorangie, we did chat briefly about its peatier cheekier cousin Ardbeg.

CH: May will be the 200th anniversary of Ardbeg and you have plans to launch a new whisky. Tell us more?

BL: Ahh.. the land of the badgers… The 1st product has already been launched – Perpetuum – with the committee release already out.

The idea is that the distillery has a very checkered history. It has been opened and closed and opened and neglected until LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) took it over. So the idea is that in addition to looking back on what has happened in the last 200 years we are looking ahead to the next 200 years. And we want the distillery to remain open and in production in perpetuity. So that is where the name has come from.

Basically I’ve put together a mélange of lots of different cask types, lots of different styles of Ardbeg that have been made over the years. I tasted it in Sydney on Wednesday and I thought, to be honest, I’m generally my own worst critic but I’m quite happy with how this one has worked out.

We are also going to do another bottling for Ardbeg – a higher end bottling. I’ve already put together a recipe for that. It will be very limited. It will not be a cheap and regret I can’t tell you any more details on that as there hasn’t been a pre-release yet.

CH: Let’s talk about the Committee with now over 100,000 members – its role and future?

BL: The committee has grown to such an extent now with these limited bottlings that inevitably there are people who are going to be disappointed.

I’m not 100% sure about the future direction of the committee. It was formed to make sure that the doors of the distillery never close again and its been very successful in that. So like I say, we are reviewing the committee to see how to take it to the next stage.

Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg Blogger Vault)

Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg Blogger Vault)

Pssstt…. Perpetuum is available at the distillery and also online (though apparently demand ‘broke‘ the website temporarily).

Those lucky enough to sample a bottle – slainthe! For the rest of us – raise a toast with your favourite available Ardbeg and celebrate continued access to this impish Islay distillery!

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MW Interview with Dr Bill Lumsden

It is finally out!! Last month I had the pleasure of interviewing for Man’s World the one and only Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stock for The Glenmorangie Company in Delhi. There is a certain delicious irony about a “Whisky Lady” invading a “Man’s World.”

We had a one-on-one and covered oodles of topics. The published interview touched on:

  • 30 year perspective on the industry
  • Taking risks with wood and inadvertently taking on the Scotch Whisky Association
  • Experiments with unexpected results such as the Elanta
  • Jim Murray‘s comments on Scottish whisky needing to ‘wake-up‘ to the threat of world whiskies
  • Trends in how whisky is consumed
  • Ardbeg’s 200th year celebration whisky Perpetuum

A rather unreadable scanned version is here…

2015-05-MW-Bill Lumsden interview Carissa Hickling

For those in India – go pick up a copy of the May 2015 Man’s World!

For those not in India – patience. Perhaps one of these days the interview will be released online

Man's World May 2015 Cover

For a glimpse of the whisky and food pairing at The Oberoi, Delhi check out Glenmorangie Evening.

I’m also planning blog versions of a few gems different from the MW interview. So stay tuned!!

Psst – Full interview now available here!

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Glenmorangie Evening with Dr Bill Lumsden

After the disappointing Jim Murray Amrut experience, what a joy to join the Glenmorangie event in Delhi at the Oberoi with Dr Bill Lumsden – Director Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stock. Bill’s irreverent humour, insights and knowledge alone was a draw…. throw in a couple good drams, quality food and great company – we have a winner!

The evening had three parts:

  • Sociable ‘cocktails’ (aka Glenmorangie’s The Original 10 year) with canapé
  • Formal 4 course dinner paired with Glenmorangie’s 10 year, 18 year, 25 year and Signet expressions
  • Poolside free-pour party

Pre-dinner networking

Never doubt the lure of free booze in India and the growing popularity of single malts!

The ballroom foyer set the tone with a long Glenmorangie bar, ever-present waiters dropping generous drams of whisky into empty hands, rounds of hors d’oeuvre so we didn’t perish until the main event…

Desultory conversations, multiple introductions revealed a mixed crowd of folks from around India – mostly Mumbai, Delhi with a smattering from Bangalore and beyond. It was also a mélange of industry professionals, passionate whisky aficionados, journalists and ‘men about town’. Aside from women involved with the event, the female quotient was decidedly rare.

Glenmorangie evening at The Oberoi, Delhi

Glenmorangie evening at The Oberoi, Delhi

Dinning delight

From the warm glow of the Glenmorangie centrepeice to the ornamental trademark giraffe gift for each guest, someone somewhere had fussed over the details. And why a giraffe you ask? Glenmorangie has adopted a giraffe as their stills have long copper necks and stand the same height as a fully grown adult giraffe!

Warning… what follows may make you hungry!

Setting the stage for a Glenmorangie food and whisky pairing

Setting the stage for a Glenmorangie food and whisky pairing

1st Course with Glenmorangie 10 year

Introducing the Glenmorangie The Original 10 year, Bill shared that he is often asked “Which is your favourite Glenmorangie whisky?” To which he joked it is like being asked “Which do you prefer – your son or your daughter?” However he did admit the Original is the whisky he drinks most often – either neat or in a cocktail.

The Glenmorangie staple whisky was paired with:

  • Grilled Peruvian asparagus and warm goat cheese salad, roast baby beetroot in honey mustard dressing
  • Yellow fin tuna carpaccio ‘Nicoise’ citrus emulsion, egg, kalamata olive tapenade, french beans

I opted for the tuna and while the citrus and whisky wasn’t a completely successful combination, the olive gave the dish and whisky a nice ‘punch’.

st course with Glenmorangie 10 year 'The Original'

1st course with Glenmorangie 10 year ‘The Original’

2nd Course with Glenmorangie 18 year

Bill then introduced the 18 year as the ‘Big Brother’ of The Original. He shared that the whisky spends 15 years in American Oak then finishes for 3 years in Olorosso Sherry casks and called it his “Channel No 5 of malt whisky.”

The whisky had a delightful nose with fruit, raisins, sweet mint and walnuts, balanced palate with a superb finish. It was paired with Parmesan cheese tortelli Himalayan morel consommé saffron cream.

Perfection! A pairing that enhanced both in a delightful dance of flavours – the whisky heightened the parmesan and cream whereas the tortelli added a chocolate dimension to the whisky. In short – delicious!

2nd course with Glenmorangie 18 year

2nd course with Glenmorangie 18 year

3rd Course with Glenmorangie 25 year 

By this point in the evening, Bill simply had to intervene to prevent the waiters from providing ice. There was no way the Glenmorangie 25 year would be served on the rocks!

While he admitted he is always tinkering with the recipe, was delighted with the recognition the 25 year received in 2012. Bill also suggested this is one whisky to enjoy with a cigar.

To go with the Glenmorangie 25 year, there were three options:

  • Lobster – Braised Cochin lobster with country cream, forest mushrooms, wild rice and ‘Glenmorangie Signet’ infusion
  • Lamb – New Zealand lamb chops with gratin potatoes, artichoke cream, micro greens with Port wine sauce
  • Vegetarians – For the vegetarians, there was artichoke, pok choy and zucchini ‘fritto misto’ with a lemon and rosemary potato cream, bell pepper coulis.

The 25 year has such a full-bodied robust whisky bursting with character that it required entrees with equal personality and pizzazz.

I tried the lobster and found myself wondering if cracked black-pepper would have enhanced the combination. From others around me, clearly the lamb was a complimentary pairing. While a vegetarian was just happy it wasn’t a typical pasta, not sure the pairing scored top marks.

3rd course with Glenmorangie 18 year

3rd course with Glenmorangie 25 year

4th Course with Glenmorangie Signet

For the last course, Bill reversed his ‘no ice’ stance and encouraged sampling the Signet chilled. The waiters enthusiastically defaulted to serving in this way.

Desert was a slow cooked Valhrona chocolate torte with a mocha sand, raspberry coulis and a side of minted vanilla ice cream. Signet had a liqueur like quality, like tiramisu, cinnamon, cloves, creamy like sweet butter, smooth with a chocolate coffee. As a combination – the minted ice cream was a refreshing contrast to the rich coffee smoothness of the Signet with the mocha sand adding a deeper note to the torte and whisky both. There was more than one moan of sheer unadulterated delight.

4th course with Glenmorangie Signet

4th course with Glenmorangie Signet

Post-dinner impressions

Informal polls on whisky preferences had surprising results. In most cases, gentlemen preferred the 10 or 18 year. One could argue that palates were pre-tuned to the 10 year as it was available in generous pours during the ‘cocktail’ hour. Additionally, the 18 year pairing was simply superb – one of the best I have sampled til date.

Whereas for me, it was a toss-up between the coffee complexity of the Signet and the depth and personality of the 25 year. The benefit of the poolside party was an opportunity to try both on their own and, more importantly for the Signet, without ice!

However, even with the chance to sample further, it is not the optimal way to form an understanding of a whisky’s character. Rather than ‘tasting notes’, I gained instead the memory of a thoroughly enjoyable evening, where the company and conversations were engaging with a rare opportunity to meet the innovator behind Glenmorangie and Ardbeg creations.

Glenmorangie Signet on ice

Glenmorangie Signet on ice

Though each whisky was appreciated… I wish I could have snagged the open 25 year and Signet for solo sampling or a quiet tasting evening at home with a very small set of friends to focus primarily on the whisky. I’m also partial to sipping from Glencairn or tulip glasses and not the Glenmorangie rounded tumblers.

However, if the goal of the evening was to whet the appetite for further interest in trying again – clearly they succeeded!

PS I was fortunate to interview Dr Bill Lumsden one-on-one for Man’s World magazine… stay tuned for more!

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