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Issue 72 - Forest to flask

Whisky Magazine Issue 72
June 2008


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Forest to flask

William M. Dowd heads to the Ozark mountains to investigate Glenmorangie's impressive wood policy.

In most of life's undertakings, patience is a virtue. In whisky making, it is a requirement. And, in this era of worldwide efforts to improve the sustainability of the environment, it is becoming an absolute necessity.

It was a gray day as we stood on the Victors Point ridge high above a gentle curve in the Mississippi River not far from the boyhood Missouri home of the iconic writer Mark Twain.

Dr. Bill Lumsden picked up an acorn, held it between two fingers and observed to me, “Just think, in a hundred years or so this could be part of Glenmorangie whisky.” Now, that is thinking ahead. It also is part of The Glenmorangie Co.'s corporate mantra: sustainability of the forests, a zerowaste production stream, and a continued excellence of product.

We were in the mostly-rural American state of Missouri – far from the state's two true population centres of St. Louis and Kansas City. It was part of a Lumsdenguided tour for a small international group of beverage journalists to more fully understand the yin and yang of Scotch whisky and wood.

The tour itself offered a study in smalltown Americana surrounded by heavy oak-growth woods in the Ozark Mountains.

There, Glenmorangie works with the Missouri Conservation Department as well as private commercial loggers to select white oak trees for the barrels that eventually will hold its new whiskies – after, of course, they have been seasoned by helping American bourbon mature for four to eight years.

The wood cannot be dis...

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