Glenmorangie Unveils Rare Grand Vintage Malt 1998

by Phillip Galyean

Delicate and spicy with a wonderful amber glow, Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1998
showcases some of the first Glenmorangie ever aged in new charred oak. Resulting from one of Dr Bill Lumsden’s earliest experiments as the Highland Distillery’s whisky creator, the 23-year-old limited edition’s notes of ginger, baked apples and orange chocolate are a delectable twist on Glenmorangie’s signature finesse.

Glenmorangie’s whisky makers have been endlessly imaginative on their quest to create delicious single malts for over 175 years. None more so than Dr Bill Lumsden, appointed Director of Whisky Creation the year this vintage was distilled. Dr Bill, who had joined Glenmorangie as Distillery Manager some time before, was brimming with ideas. And in 1998 he vowed to explore the undiscovered wonders of new charred oak barrels.

New charred oak had never previously been used at the Distillery. Dreaming of the flavours it might bring, Dr Bill first earmarked a few casks tailormade to enrich Glenmorangie’s fruity spirit. By heavily charring the virgin wood of these bespoke casks for the first time, he hoped to create a striking style of single malt, intense in colour and spice. He used most of the casks to wood-finish whisky, balancing their spiciness with Glenmorangie’s complex fruits. But Dr Bill also filled a few with new-make spirit, imagining an unprecedented single malt. Aged for 23 years, the spirit transformed into a whisky surging with vanilla, chocolate orange, ginger and sweet chilli.

Delighted by his experiment, Dr Bill envisaged how he might complement Glenmorangie’s delicacy with that whisky’s toasty, buttery power. He married its oaky notes with soft, fruity whisky aged in first-fill bourbon casks, and a subtly sweet whisky finished in oloroso sherry casks. The result is a single malt wonderfully balancing ripe fruit and orange chocolate notes, sugared almonds and spice.

Dr Bill said: “New in post in 1998, I had all sorts of ideas for new and delicious whiskies. And one my first experiments was with new charred oak casks. At the heart of Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1998 is a parcel of that experimental whisky. Aged in those casks for 23 years, it gives the limited edition a wonderful spicy note and an amber glow. With aromas of apples and plums and tastes of orange chocolate and clove, this whisky brings a new dimension to Glenmorangie’s elegance.”

The whiskies of the Bond House No. 1 vintage series are created from some of Glenmorangie’s most prized parcels of aged whisky, for delicious results. The series is named after the largest of the Distillery’s 19th-century Bonded Warehouses. For years Warehouse No. 1 homed maturing casks, then was transformed into a majestic new still house in 1990. Today it contains 12 of Glenmorangie’s signature stills. With necks as tall as a giraffe, they allow more space for taste and aroma.

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