Whisky’s diversity is partly thanks to the variety of casks that they are matured in. But how often do you come across one that spent its life in ex-rye whiskey casks? The new member of Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series – its ninth release, in fact – is in fact, fully matured in ex-rye whiskey casks.
The Private Edition is essentially a showcase for the various facets of the Glenmorangie spirit, often through maturation in hard-to-obtain casks or one-off productions. Previous efforts include experiments with likes of Sassicaia casks (Artein), Malmsey Madeira casks (Bacalta), and even Maris Otter barley (Tusail).
Spios, which is Gaelic for spice, is Glenmorangie’s – and Dr Bill Lumsden’s – tribute to rye whiskey. Back in the 1990s, Dr Lumsden was then Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks. While in the United States, he was quite taken by the cinnamon and clove notes of rye whiskey. He liked how rye whiskey was similar to bourbon and yet different (colloquially known here as same-same but different lah) and he wagered in his mind that Glenmorangie’s light and smooth distillate could be the right platform for the subtleties of rye whiskey and was determined to bring a hint of American rye whiskey’s bygone elegance to the Glenmorangie range.
Well, if there’s anyone who you can count on to carry out this sort of thing, it would be Dr Lumsden, who in fact, has a PhD in biochemistry and earned a reputation for combining art and science through groundbreaking wood management techniques, experimentation with exceptional casks at various ages, and use of extra-maturation.
With the help of the late Michael Jackson (the writer, of course) Dr Lumsden managed to source some of the finest first-fill casks from American rye whiskey’s heartland of Kentucky. It took him 10 years to secure the barrels required. And long before rye’s renaissance of today, he arranged for these casks to be shipped over to Scotland, where over the years, they began to impart their intriguing flavours to the raw spirit that would eventually become Spios. Understandably, Dr Lumsden was coy about the provenance of the casks, but he did share that these once held six-year-old rye whiskey with a mash bill of 95 percent rye and five percent barley.
Dr Lumsden added: “I have always loved American rye whiskey’s spicy character, and I believed our Distillery’s smooth house style would perfectly complement the nuances of ex-rye casks. The result is Glenmorangie Spìos – a full-bodied, savoury single malt whisky which brings to mind American rye whiskey’s golden age. Its fresh, herbal nose hints at cherry, clove and scents of green grass. Then rye’s spice bursts on to the palate, as toffee, clove and cinnamon mingle with buttery vanilla, before a sweet and lingering finish. I hope connoisseurs and collectors will enjoy this latest innovative release in our Private Edition – a single malt whisky which is unmistakeably Glenmorangie, yet exquisitely different.”
The Glenmorangie Private Edition Spios will be available from S$240 at The Whisky Distillery @ ION Orchard, The Whisky Distillery @ OUE Downtown Gallery and all major whisky specialist stores.
Official Tasting Notes
Colour Straw gold
Nose Fresh, herbal and perfumed, hints of cherry, clove and mint toffee, with some green grassy notes. A splash of water releases more perfumed, ‘ethereal’ notes, crisp, clean and fresh, with myriad herbal notes.
Taste Spicy texture, lots of toffee, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet, buttery vanilla.
Finish Rich, sweet and lingering, with more fudge, toffee, brazil nut and tangy citrus.
The Glenmorangie Spìos is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV.