Thanks to /u/smoked_herring & /u/devoz for the samples.
An old joke or riddle was “When is a Martini not a Martini?” and the answer being “A Gimlet”. I imagine if you’re over the age of 70 you are smirking at this time. I assume. I don’t really find it funny or that ubiquitous. I found it in an old book on Martinis, explaining that a Martini has olives, and a Gimlet has a cocktail onion. I’m sure that someone who knows more about cocktails would be able to explain how I’ve screwed that up.
What does it have to do with Glenmorangie? Well, like Balvenie and Glenfiddich, you do not see independently bottled Glenmorangies, but you do see independently bottled Westports. And when is a Glenmorangie not a Glenmorangie? When it’s been teaspooned, and thus a Westport.
The value question therefore comes up: Should you wait for this year’s special Glenmorangie release? Save up for one that costs a mortgage? Or buy the Westport?
I’m going to attempt to answer this question by reviewing Glenmorangie and Westport, seeing which I personally prefer and would recommend.
“But what about the wacky casks?” We have those too. Two of these have interesting wine or brandy casks, and two were ex-Bourbon.
Does the onion/teaspoon have a large impact? I can’t speak for the onion, but let’s see if the teaspoon has, shall we?
Glenmorangie Westport 22 1996 Berry Bros & Rudd
Thanks to /u/devoz for the sample.
We have a Glenmorangie that’s been teaspooned with another 22 year old Scotch. Thus we have a Westport.
The draw on this whisky? Well it’s a single cask, it’s cask strength, and it’s finished in Shustov Brandy casks, which is a first for me. What’s Shustov brandy? Well it’s brandy from a specific distiller in Ukraine.
Ah. That’s why I’ve been avoiding posting this. I had hoped that the major terrible world event would resolve, as I don’t want to post a joyful aspect like whisky and seem like I’m jumping on a bandwagon of a terrible event that should not be happening.
I’m going to state that I feel Putin’s invasion is obviously a bullying ploy to hurt the world, and like all conflicts, I hope that the sanctions and non violent intervention as well as the brave defence of Ukraine by the Ukrainian people leads to peace and rights for all people.
No jokes this time. I’m going to try this whisky which wouldn’t exist if not for Ukraine’s influence, and hope I can have more in the future.
Price: € 150
Cask type: Shustov Brandy Finish
Cask Number: 2500
Colour: 7.5YR 6/8
Nose: Hazelnut, peach, caramel, papaya, tahini, kola nut
So you have the typical notes you associate with Glenmorangie: Peach, fruit, caramel, maybe some tropical notes with stronger releases.
However there’s also this strong nuttiness, kinda like what Trump had on his lips after visiting with Putin (no shade, I’m happy those two old guys found one another, even monsters deserve love).
It’s completely different from other Glenmorangies just due to that strong note, that then grows into different elements.
Taste: Orange candy, hazelnut, sourbracht, hay, papaya, thyme
Again, take the fruitiness and sweetness that you’re used to in Glenmorangie. Then add in more sour, meaty notes, herbal elements, some barnyard, and more of that nuttiness.
The brandy cask hasn’t wiped out the Glenmorangie elements: They are still there, but the rest is very different. Sour and funkier than Glenmorangie usually is.
Finish: Hazelnut, cloves, mint, peach, hickory sticks
Nutty, spicy, only a bit of the peach you know from Glenmorangie, and a strong, strong Mesquite flavour (that’s the flavour of hickory sticks, it’s a snack in Canada, they are super good).
Still sour, less funky now. Quite the change from the rest, almost off putting if it wasn’t also tasty. Granted I’m a sucker for that smoke flavour.
Conclusion: Weird, but very tasty. Has a lot of sour and funk going on. I think Glenmorangie gave up the cask because it’s so different by the end from their typical profile. Which frankly is too bad, however I guess if they couldn’t release enough for a special edition and this is the obvious way to go.
This is so different and interesting that it’s what I look for in Glenmorangie special releases: There’s still enough to tie it back to the distillery profile and it’s fun. If I was in charge of the Glenmorangie spirit and had this? I’d be buying a lot of these casks immediately to make more.
Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake may as well have my fake internet name on it for being what I want:
- I’ve been a fan of Glenmorangie special releases in the past (though I’m picky)
- I have a sweet tooth that probably can be tied back to record profits for bakeries having a good year
- I really enjoy Tokaji wine and the impact of it on whiskies
- Did I mention I eat a lot of sweets? A Tale of Cake may as well be the name of my sex tape.
But did it turn out well? As I said, I’m a picky bugger when it comes to the releases. There’s been multiple cask strength releases that I seem to prefer. So it’s not all one and done, wham bam thank you Sir may I have another.
So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Cask type: Tokaji Dessert Wine Cask
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Vanilla, pound cake, cooked peach, licorice
So the name was accurate. That’s a good start.
Sweet. Sweet notes, sweet cereal, sweet stone fruit, and sweet spice. It’s all sweet with some sweet balance elements from the vanilla, while adding on sweetness in case the name was wrong.
Taste: Golden syrup, ginger, apple, vegetal
Sweet, but less complex. Fruit sweet and pure sweet that my culture (British Canadian Diabeetus person) loves. There’s some earth to balance it, and some spice, but it’s mostly just a mess.
Finish: Apple, mineral, turnip, orange, anise
The finish has one thing going for it: The taste is bad, and the finish is not as bad. It’s like being the second most annoying person in your friend group: Congrats, something is worse than you and nearby, you’re being ignored slightly less.
Fruit, mineral, a bit of spice, and some random raw turnip flavour that reminds you that it is, in fact, the second most annoying friend.
Conclusion: This is a lot of things thrown at a wall at once, and sadly they all stuck, for better or for worse. The nose is probably the best they could hope for: There’s no doubt that this is related to cake when you nose it.
The taste is what happens when you try and eat an apple cake’s ingredients, and the finish is trying to mix it and accidentally throwing some turnip in there.
Packaging is nice though, so I assume all the insane auctions for this have been over that. So whatever you do, don’t drink it (because it’s just okay), just sell it off so someone can buy some liquid art.
Glenmorangie 15 The Cadboll Estate was originally made for the Travel Retail market. If you haven’t been reading whisky reviews, let me catch you up: The Travel Retail market has a success rate that makes new restaurant openings look like Ty Cobb’s batting average if you gave him robot eyes.
What’s the deal? The Cadboll Estate is a portion of the land near the Glenmorangie distillery. What’s the estate named after? The Cadboll Cup, a silver goblet from the 16th century that was used by the Macleods of Cadboll. Caught up? Great.
Now the confusing thing I’m finding is some are writing that it’s purely American Oak Bourbon Barrels, and others bring up wine barrels, but this obviously says American oak on the front so.. Maybe that’s a new one?
Screw it, we can’t know everything. Let’s see if this deserves to be in all those fun auctions as well, shall we?
Price: $140 CAD (BCLC)
Bottled: December 12, 2019
Cask Type: 1st Fill American Oak Bourbon Barrels
Colour: 7.5Y 8/6
Nose: Apple, cloves, daisies, grapefruit, vanilla
Light, but not off putting. Fruity, some spice, some floral, and some obvious ex-bourbon impact in vanilla. It’s quite light though. Gave it time, some water.. Just really hard to pick it all apart.
Nothing rough though. Which is nice.
Taste: Sesame, apple, caramel, tannic
Very watery. Super watered down. It completely loses the plot here. No different fruit, no tart balance, no lovely floral/sweet aspects, and no spice. Instead it’s really light and forgettable.
Took a long time to pull anything out of this.
Finish: Orange, brown sugar, cereal, brine
Tart, brown sugar, some simple cereal and brine. It’s not lasting long, it’s not running out the door, but it’s okay. I don’t mind it, but it’s not really that flavourful.
Conclusion: End of the day this should have been a subtle, interesting, complex whisky that cost more and showed off interesting aspects of Glenmorangie, or a group of single cask Westport releases that varied between “meh” to very well done. Instead we ended up with a watered down OB that loses the plot as soon as you taste it and doesn’t really bring much to the table.
So everything about this whisky was picked out by Dr. Bill Lumsden, down to the specific type of barley used, the casks used, the bottle design, and everything in between.
So either Dr. Bill has different likes and dislikes to me (likely), or that was something the marketers made up and took off the end part, which is “it didn’t work as well so we lowered the abv. to just above the legal minimum”. It’s smooth. It’s simple. I’ve had better Glenmorangie releases, easily. It shouldn’t be this watered down, it shouldn’t be frankly, but it is and now people are buying them from auctions. I have to assume the packaging is the main reason again.
Thanks to /u/smoked_herring [+2] for sharing this dram.
Glenmorangie Westport 22 1997 Blackadder Raw Cask is our final whisky in this fun little quadrology. In this case we have a single cask that has been teaspooned again, and then nothing has been messed with whatsoever. Because that’s what Blackadder does, other than reincarnate at specific major events in Britain’s timeline.
I’m being told that Black Adder was someone else.
So it’s 22 years old, from the champions of chunks of casks in your dram, in the most raw state you’ll ever get without visiting Dr. Bill yourself. How does it taste?
Let’s find out, shall we?
Vintage: October 20, 1997
Bottled: October 2019
Cask Type: Hogshead
Cask number: 3293
Number of bottles: 170
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Canned pear, mineral, cardamom, caramel, puff pastry, almond
Strong, sweet pear notes balanced with spice and mineral. Give it some more time and you get this buttery, pastry and nuttiness/cherry note (am I the only one who gets almond and cherry mixed up?)
Draws you in, very nice. The pear is the main portion, and while it doesn’t dominate it’s certainly taking the lead role.
Taste: Canned pear, crème Anglaise, ginger, almond
More real strong and sweet pear. If I was more of a pear fiend then maybe I could pick out the type. Sadly I eat whatever pear is available to be purchased and loved canned pears as a child. So that’s what I focused on. Perhaps if I was a pampered rich French child I would have centred on the creme Anglaise.
Finish: Caramel, pear, cardamom, grass, Sprite
More pear, but less pear than before. Comparative words are fun kids!
Less complex, less overall spice, and overall probably the weakest side of the whisky. Which is too bad. Was hoping for a pear galette-like flavour.
Conclusion: A lesson in pear, and done quite well, with the only flaw being a slightly less than stellar finish. Which let’s be honest was still tasty, it just showed up with a casserole when the rest showed up with a full hog and a croquembouche. As someone who usually shows up with the casserole, I can sympathise.
What do you get from this whisky, at the end of the day? A sweet dessert dram that leans into Austrian and British-North American flavours and was nice. Tastes good, and worth trying.
Based on the above, I think I’ll be looking at more Westports, but maybe Glenmorangie’s next special release (that I get my hands on) will make me change my mind again.
Scotch review #1520-1523, Highland review #251-254, Whisky Network review #2229-2232