Whisky review: Glenmorangie 2019 Private Edition Allta

By TimeForWhisky, March 7 2019
Whisky review: Glenmorangie 2019 Private Edition Allta

I've always respected Glenmorangie's Private Editions as genuine departures from the core Glenmorangie range. They often involve significant foresight and planning far beyond simply giving the whisky a 'finish' for a few months.

Last year's Spios, for example, was wholly aged in ex-Rye casks for some 10 years, whilst 2015's Tùsail involved the use of a unique strain of barley.

For the 2019 Private Edition the focus shifts to yeast rather than maturation, barley or finishing.

It's a focus which took root 20 years ago, when a discussion between Glenmorangie’s long-time whisky-maker Dr Bill Lumsden (below) and late whisky writer Michael Jackson about a since-forgotten "house" yeast strain which Glenmorangie used to possess.

Glenmorangie’s Dr Bill Lumsden looks for the new and the decidedly different in whiskies
Glenmorangie’s Dr Bill Lumsden looks for the new and the decidedly different in whiskies

Lumsden began thinking more about yeast – he is, after all, a yeast physiologist with a PhD in Microbial Physiology and Fermentation – and specifically how, in his words, "yeast’s influence on taste has been overlooked for years."

That led to Lumsden to discover a new species of wild yeast growing on the distillery's Cadboll barley, which was subsequently cultivated and brought together with the barley itself to distill a unique, brand new Glenmorangie spirit.

That spirit was then matured in a mixture of refill and second fill ex-Bourbon barrels - allowing the spirit to do the talking, rather than the oak – and after more than ten years, bottled at 51.2% (a departure from the usual 46% of recent Private Editions) and non chill-filtered... all of which makes for a very interesting whisky.

Glenmorangie Allta 10th Private Edition 2019 Release

Colour: Deep orange gold.

Nose: Cereal-like at first – think porridge with vanilla essence – and Arnott's cream biscuits (orange cream especially). There's some barley sugar, too – the type your parents would buy you from the chemist when you were sick – and with water, significantly more perfumed, floral notes.

Palate: The biscuit notes continue, with some strawberry and peach fruitiness, with an unmistakeable earthiness underlying the whole thing and a robust viscosity throughout. Yet you wouldn't necessarily pick it as 51%+ dram, as the alcohol content never feels harsh. With a few drops of water, the aforementioned fruity notes are brought to the fore even more.

Finish: Long, with some grapefruit (flesh rather than peel), underlying but never-dominant oak and a slight earthy peppermint note to finish.

Rating: 90/100. A delicious dram and more importantly, a unique and interesting departure from the core Glenmorangie range, which still clearly a Glenmo.

Details: 51.2% ABV, A$150.

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