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Issue 9 - Vintage explorations

Whisky Magazine Issue 9
April 2000


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Vintage explorations

Glenmorangie's creative relationship with wine barrels has produced some radical and fascinating results, Maragaret Rand reports on the progression so far.

It's a tempting prospect – a fine malt matured in a barrel that once contained one of France's greatest red wines. True, the Glenmorangie Claret Finish does not advertise the fact that the barrel in which it spent its last few months came from Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the finest Bordeaux reds. Nor, if current experiments prove successful, will it blazon the name of Château d'Yquem all over the label of a future Sauternes Finish. Nevertheless, Dr Bill Lumsden, head of Distilleries and Maturation at Glenmorangie, is probably rubbing his hands with glee when a barrel of such an aristocratic provenance arrives. After all if you're going to experiment with wine barrels for whisky, you might as well go to the top.

Wine finishes for malt whisky are of course nothing new. Malt was routinely matured in ex-sherry casks until sherry ceased to be bottled in Britain and the cheap supply of such casks dried up. Now if you want to age your malt in sherry casks you have to write a large cheque to a sherry bodega to persuade it to put its wine in your cask for a few years. It's an expensive business, and only The Macallan does it for all
its whisky.

Glenmorangie already has wood finishes, but when Dr Lumsden wanted to relaunch Glen Moray he had a problem on his hands. How could he make it stand out from its rivals? The answer was white wine – and so the white wine finish was born.

The flavours involved are fundamentally different. All the wine finishes that had been availa...

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