Bottling Sunshine In A Glass


April 12, 2017 | BY Ben Chin

The Glenmorangie Bacalta is a complex blend of sunshiny flavours, like haute couture.

From the sun-baked Malmsey Madeira casks to the sunny island-state, the Glenmorangie Bacalta Private Edition single malt whisky was launched in March in Singapore. The Bacalta (Gaelic for baked) was inspired by the 1995 Glenmorangie Madeira Finish—the world’s first whisky extra-matured in Madeira casks—created by master distiller Dr Bill Lumsden.

Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks and Dr Bill Lumsden’s heir apparent, Brendan McCarron explained, “(Bacalta) is the eighth Private Edition. Each year, we make a tiny batch of a one-off whisky. Some years like Tùsail, we take a very different raw material—barley—and brewed it for a slightly biscuity, sweetened version of Glenmorangie. In other years, we used casks that were normally not recommended for the whisky industry. Like Ealanta for example, we used virgin oak casks, which are more commonly used by American whisky. And Ealanta won World Whisky of the Year (in 2014).”

Due to a lack of high quality Madeira casks at that time, Dr Lumsden was unable to continue producing the 1995 edition of the Madeira-finished whisky; so for the 2017 Private Edition, Glenmorangie decided to build the casks themselves. McCarron, together with Dr Lumsden, carefully custom-created the American oak casks, heavily toasting them to strengthen the barrel’s flavours that would be absorbed by the whisky during maturation. McCarron continued, “We chose Malmsey, which is very concentrated and an acidic version of Madeira. We left them to bake in the sun and that further oxidised and acidified the sweetness. The wine is destroyed by now, but it has provided these incredible casks. The casks are then filled and left to finish for almost two years.”

Dr Lumsden explained, “For years, I had longed to create the best Madeira-finished whisky possible. Realising that ambition took time and dedication, as every step of extra-maturation was tailored exactly to our specifications—rather like haute couture. Connoisseurs will recognise the radiating warmth of our bespoke sun-baked casks in Glenmorangie Bacalta’s aromas of ripe apricots, white chocolate and mineral notes. There are complex tastes of mint toffee, baked fruits, honeycomb, almonds and dates, mingling with marzipan, white pepper and melo—and a rich, syrupy finish. Glenmorangie Bacalta is a burst of sunshine in a glass.”