There are a multitude of reasons I find single malt scotch fascinating, and the two most important ones are worlds apart. On the one hand, if you love a specific expression of this drink, it stays consistent year after year and batch after batch. On the other, an ever-increasing number of distilleries are releasing unique expressions in limited quantities. Starting in 2010, for example, Glenmorangie released a Private Edition single malt scotch each year. It’s a limited edition Scotch, available in select shops — until it’s gone. For the current edition, their director of distilling and whiskey creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden, decided to focus on a specific type of barley. Maris Otter winter barley was first harvested for commercial use 50 years ago. When this variety of barley fell in favor, it was quickly in danger of becoming extinct. A couple of British businessman in the seed trade joined together to save it from extinction, citing its exceptional quality and level of distinction. Dr. Bill Lumsden became aware of their efforts, and soon the plans for what became Tùsail were born.
Glenmorangie Tùsail Single Malt Scotch ($99)
This expression was floor malted using Maris Otter winter barley. Traditional methodology was used throughout the production process. Aromas of fresh-cut wheat, toasted farro, earth, and pecan are all prominent on the welcoming nose. Apricot, nectarine, brown sugar, mission fig, and praline all come into play on the impressive, layered, and deeply nuanced palate. The flavors come at you one after another in an attack that is impressive because of both its vastness and how gentle it really is at its core. The finish, whose length and profundity can only be properly described as prodigious, shows off marzipan, spices such as clove and ginger, baked pear, and more. The flavors reverberate against the back of the throat long after the last sip has been swallowed.
Glenmorangie’s Range is best known for single malts finished in various types of casks. Bill Lumsden spends a great deal of time visiting wine regions and picking barrels that previously held myriad types and styles of wine which he feels will help create expressions which are unique to Glenmorangie. Some of their best known expressions, such as Lasanta and Quinta Ruban, are industry leaders. They have had remarkable impact on other distilleries, many of which now also produce single malts with finishes that quite obviously influenced by Glenmorangie’s varieties. If you’re already a Glenmorangie fan, you owe it to yourself to seek out a bottle of Tùsail. It stands alone in their portfolio as a distinct expression. If you’re not very familiar with Glenmorangie, this is certainly a delicious place to start.