Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Review / Glenmorangie A Tale of Tokyo

The north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie have launched the fourth bottling in their annual Tales series - the Glenmorangie A Tale of Tokyo. This has seen Dr. Bill Lumsden, the Director of Whisky Creation at Glenmorangie, using rare Japanese mizunara oak for the famous single malt brand for the first time. The whisky from these casks has been married with traditional American oak ex-bourbon cask and ex-sherry cask stock to create the perfect balance. 

The packaging for a Tale of Tokyo features a collaboration with Japanese artist Yamaguchi Akira and shows a Tokyo street scene. Look out as there are five Dr. Bills hidden within the illustration. The Tales series has proved popular since launching in 2020 with A Tale of Cake and followed in subsequent years by A Tale of Winter and A Tale of the Forest. Glenmorangie A Tale of Tokyo is bottled at 46% ABV and will retail worldwide for £76 per bottle. 

Glenmorangie is one of the best-selling single malt Scotch whisky brands in the world and consistently sits in fourth place behind Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Macallan. It was founded in 1843 by William Matheson. It is located in the north Highland town of Tain. The distillery was originally named Morangie and became Glenmorangie in 1887. 

Glenmorangie has an annual production capacity of six million litres. The stills are the tallest in Scotland standing at over five metres (16.5 feet) - this is the same height as an adult male giraffe. It also uses the hardest water of any Scotch whisky distillery in production, which comes from the nearby Tarlogie Springs. The distillery and brand are currently owned by Moet Hennessey.

Our Tasting Notes

The colour is coppery gold and the nose is rich and savoury with initial aromas of dark chocolate, incense and sandalwood. Underneath are further aromas of caramel, toffee, vanilla custard and malted biscuits with hints of cocoa powder, cinnamon and orange.

On the palate this whisky feels rich, bold and heavy. The intense notes from the nose strike first again, especially the chocolate and sandalwood.  There is also something herbal and menthol-like that evolves early on. Then comes the caramel and toffee sweetness and this creates superb balance. Some citrus fruit notes also come through well - think of orange oil and candied peel especially. More subtle notes take their time to develop but add incredible depth and complexity - think of cocoa powder, gingerbread, bitter cherry and a hint of aniseed.

The finish is long and remains bold. The sweeter elements slowly fade and this allows plenty of oak and warming woody spices to shine. There is a slightly resinous feel and this accentuates notes of rancio, cedarwood and sandalwood. Pinches of cocoa and white pepper make the woodiness pop and also aids the length of finish.

What's The Verdict?

This is a fine whisky from Glenmorangie and one that shows off the superb savoury characteristics of Japanese mizunara oak. The balance between these and the sweeter elements is very good, and the result is a deliciously warming and bold whisky. The Glenmorangie Tales series is quickly becoming a legendary collection of single malts and one that pushes the famous brand in different directions. The Tale of Tokyo explores Japanese oak for the first time and leaves us wondering what will be next.

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