Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review - Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1989

The Grand Vintage 1989 is the second bottling in Glenmorangie's Bond House No.1 Collection. The series is designed to celebrate some of the north Highland distillery's most prized whiskies and kicked off in 2016 with the Grand Vintage 1990. This second bottling uses some of the last spirit distilled in the old stillhouse before it was moved and expanded in 1990. The new location was the former Bond House No.1 warehouse. The Grand Vintage 1989 has been matured in American oak casks before being transferred to ex-Côte-Rôtie red wine casks for a 'long finish' according to Dr. Bill Lumsden - the Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks at Glenmorangie.

Glenmorangie is one of the biggest selling single malt Scotch whisky brands in the world and was founded in 1843 by William Matheson. It was originally named as Morangie and took its current name in 1887. Glenmorangie has an annual production capacity of six million litres and the copper pot stills are the tallest of their type in Scotland, standing over five metres (16.5 feet) tall. It is also said to use the hardest water of any Scottish whisky distillery in production, which bubbles up from the nearby Tarlogie Springs. The distillery and brand are currently owned by Moet Hennessey.

The Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1989 is made from just 22 casks, all of which were filled in 1989, and is bottled at 43% ABV. It is available in limited numbers via selected specialist retailers worldwide and Moet Hennessy's Clos 19 website. A bottle will cost £550.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep amber and the nose has immediate notes of cocoa powder, vanilla and golden syrup. Underneath are further aromas of toasted marshmallow, caramelised almonds and hints of espresso coffee and apricots. Everything is underpinned by some delicate and earthy wood spices and a pinch of white pepper.

On the palate this whisky has a wonderful viscous and slightly syrupy mouth feel. It is luxurious with an obvious sweetness to begin with. This turns more savoury with time and creates an incredible depth and complexity. There are initial sweet notes of honey, caramel and golden syrup along with some dried apple, candied orange peel and mango. Then come distinct fruity characteristics - these are most reminiscent of raisins, currants and dried cherry. The savoury notes then begin to appear and integrate – think of old leather, tobacco leaf, cracked peppercorns and warming wood spices (especially all-spice and cinnamon) plus a hint of cocoa and ginger. The addition of water brings out the dried fruits in particular, and the apricot from the nose.

The finish becomes increasing woody and spicy, which leads to a pleasant adnd almost tannic dryness. The bold sweetness begins to fade, as do the dried fruit notes and this leads to the savoury and spicy notes becoming more prominent. This creates a good balance and gives a very long finish.

What's the verdict? 
The Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1989 is a sublime whisky and one of the best to have had an ex-red wine finish that we have tasted to date. Some examples can be overpowering but the use of the wine casks here is sympathetic. The result is a classy whisky that reflects Glenmorangie's premium standing in the market. It has a great sweet vs. savoury balance, a lovely fruity character and luxurious feel. Excellent.