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Friday, March 30, 2018

Glenmorangie Tùsail

This is only Glenmorangie special release I've ever been interested in. With Tùsail, Dr. Bill stops playing with his wood long enough to fiddle with the barley.

Because every company (not just LVMH) floods the whisky market with wood and wine experiments, I'm particularly fond of releases that showcase barley strains. Bruichladdich, Benromach, Springbank, Arran and (yes) Glenlivet have tried it out. It's a fun thing, and since the hipsters and geeks and nerds are spenders, maybe more producers should give it a try. I'm just saying.

For Tùsail, the Glenmo team distilled floor-malted Maris Otter Winter Barley for the spirit. Maris Otter was originally designed/bred in the mid-1960s for England's brewing industry. Over the next ten to twenty years, the strain became less popular because other types produced a higher sugar/alcohol yield. According to Glenmorangie's site, two merchants chose to protect and harvest Maris Otter starting in 1992.

Bruichladdich and Glann ar Mor (in France) have since made Maris Otter malts. Glenmorangie gave it a stab in 2014.

Distillery: Glenmorangie
Ownership: Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy (àccênts and ümlåūts not included)
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Age: NAS, though a former blogger claimed it was 10 years old
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtered? ???
Colorant added? ???

The nose leads with toasty barley and roasted nuts. Irish soda bread, baby powder and almond cookies. Plantains and fermenting apples. Hints of fudge and cookie dough? A prickle of spirity heat.

The palate has the roasty/toasty notes from the nose, but also an expressive dried herbality (herbalness? herbalism?). Think oregano, fennel seed and anise wrapped in a soft bitterness. It's malty and tangy with minimal vanilla. Lemons, bananas and almond cookies.

The long finish is light on sweetness and vanilla. Heavier on fennel seed and peppercorns. Heaviest on malt.

This was as enjoyable as the 18 year old, but for very different reasons. While the 18 showcases finesse and cask blended, Tùsail on a bright spirit that's bolder and feistier than anything else by Glenmorangie. Yeah, there was the old Astar, but that zipped around at 57%abv while this one punches in at 46%.

Tùsail is neither too young nor raw, though I'd be giddier to try it at 18 years if it could find balance with the oak at that age. It still comes across as an experiment at this time, BUT it may be an experiment I'd purchase if I could nab it for less than $100.

Availability - Like most of Glenmorangie's limited editions, it's still widely available 3+ years after its release.
Pricing - $90-$120 US, $100-$150 Europe (ex-VAT)
Rating - 86

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