Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

Picture a distillery manager. What does he look like? A big, burly Scot? Old and cranky? Maybe a tweed jacket and a tam-o-shantern. How about a PhD in biochemistry? Not on your mental checklist, huh? Well Glenmorangie has a secret weapon, and his name is Dr. Bill Lumsden. Since 1995, when he joined Glenmorangie as the distillery manager he has been using it as his personal laboratory, creating some of the most innovative expressions in the industry.

Back in the mid-80's, when the good doctor discovered whisky at a party, his studies began to shift to the non-medical applications of biochemistry. He completed his PhD thesis in Yeast Physiology and entered the industry as a research scientist. Over the years, he became more keen to create something rather than examine it. This ex-malter and cereal scientist attained his wish in 1995, when he joined Glenmorangie as Distillery Manager. Today he is responsible for Distilling and Whisky Creation for the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg brands. He is recognized as a leader in the industry, winning many awards and accolades for his "wood management" and exotic finishes.

I've just enjoyed two of Glenmorangie's new era of whiskies: the Quinta Ruban and the Extremely Rare 18 year old (that's the name, not my own embellishment).

The Quinta Ruban is matured in standard bourbon barrels. There is no age statement, but I think it is matured for ten years. Then, the mature Glenmorangie is extra matured or finished in Ruby Port casts from Portuguese wine estates (known as Quintas). You certainly get taste of port in the finish, but it also creates a very comfortable, warm, dark chocolate taste.

What is there to say about the 18 year old? It is one of the smoothest drams I've ever had. Excellent taste of honey, but the finish is so soothing, so matured, there's just nothing standing between you and the bottom of the glass. Kind of sad, in a way . . .

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