Glenmorangie’s newest limited-edition single malt lures you deep into the forest
The 30BB Team takes a walk on the wild side with Glenmorangie | A Tale of the Forest, the first ever whisky to be crafted from barley kilned with woodland botanicals.
Glenmorangie’s whisky makers use endless imagination and five key ingredients — wood, water, barley, yeast, and time — to dream up delicious single malt whiskies. They’ve been honing their craft for more than 175 years and, apparently, they create a delicate and fruity spirit in stills as tall as a giraffe to allow for more taste and aroma. Led by Director of Whisky Creation Dr Bill Lumsden, one of the Icons in the Whisky Hall of Fame and has been with the brand for than 25 years, they’ve created quite an impressive collection of whiskies with a twist in the tale.
They say that Dr Lumsden’s favourite phrase is “What if?”. This master distiller has constantly challenged himself and his team to take whatever captures their imaginations and turn it into whisky — be that the magic of a snowy day (A Tale of Winter), the joy of a cake moment (Glenmorangie | A Tale of Cake), a cup of coffee (Glenmorangie Signet), a beautiful barley field near the Distillery (Glenmorangie Allta), and more. And most recently, Dr Lumsden has hit upon the idea of creating a deliciously herbaceous single malt whisky inspired by the woods, the first ever whisky to be crafted from barley kilned with woodland botanicals.
The tale unfolds…
Some years ago, dreaming of a whisky which captured the wonder of a walk in the forest, Dr Lumsden recalled how ancient Highland whisky makers dried their barley with all kinds of forest fuel. He began experimenting by kilning his barley with many different botanicals, finally selecting juniper berries, birch bark and heather flowers, married with a little peat. The result was a batch of spirit with rare aromas of pine needles and juniper, laced with wisps of smoke. He then aged it in bourbon casks including many refill casks, chosen to allow the spirit’s flavours to shine. Dr Lumsden speaks eloquently about the natural, everchanging wonders he encounters as he wanders the woods near his home and how this experimental limited edition evokes the scents, sounds and sights of the forest itself.
Dr Lumsden explains, “Every time I go into the woods where I live, I notice something new, be it the fragrance of last night’s rainfall or the sound of leaves rustling a particular way. I began to imagine how we could bring the forest to life in a whisky, by kilning barley with materials from woodland, the way our ancestors did. After many experiments, we decided on juniper, birch bark and heather, which would traditionally have been used in the kilning process, to create a Glenmorangie as lush and leafy as the forest itself. With aromas of pine needles, woodland moss, juniper’s sharpness, and tastes of eucalyptus, mint, bitter orange and distant smoke, A Tale of the Forest is a whisky to surround, delight and surprise you, whether you enjoy it deep in a forest or in cocktails at home.”
Its delightful flavours of pine, juniper and woodsmoke have led illustrator Pomme Chan, who lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand, to dream up her own fantastical forest, showcased on the whisky’s pack. Chan, who has previously collaborated with many other global brands, spent time drawing in Thailand’s largest pine forest of Wat Chan, in Chiang Mai to find inspiration for her immersive technicolour artwork that fuses hand-drawing and digital techniques. Soon she created her own fantastical forest, which infuses the packaging’s design and echoes the flavours and botanicals of the whisky — with blossoming heather, fragrant juniper and oranges and pine cones dancing on the breeze.
The drinking experience
The deep amber dram is sweet and creamy on the nose. And yet there’s a botanical edge that’s reminiscent of the greens of the highland woods… probably juniper. A splash of water into the glass releases aromatic top notes, quite herbal and yet fresh. Something like damp woodland, redolent with pine, nettle, and mint. Somewhere in the mix that reminds you of camping trips in fall are the aromas of baking chestnuts, gentle wood smoke, and the scent of candied cherries.
The first sip of Glenmorangie | A Tale of the Forest, which is bottled at 46% ABV, brings a follow through, at first a peppery zing, and then an explosion of flavours: peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus, pine, wood sap, angelica, bitter orange, and, again, a hint of aromatic wood smoke. As you settle in, you pick up hints of a bittersweet, oaky tannin flavour, along with some oily vanilla and, hints of aniseed, that turn the tale lush and languorous.
From connoisseurs to collectors, this limited-edition malt is likely to find favour among many, especially in the next few months of feasts and festivities.
Starting this month (September 2023) Glenmorangie | A Tale of the Forest will be available at select retail outlets in Mumbai at Rs 11,500, and in Gurgaon at Rs 7,500.