When I had the opportunity to attend a live video stream with the master distiller at Glenmorangie, my favorite Scotch, I jumped at the chance.
This was my first experience with this kind of format and it worked very well. In fact I don’t understand why it isn’t used more often. People were tuned in from California to Florida and
points in between.
I had the opportunity a few years ago to lead a group to Scotland. We called it Distilleries and Castles of Scotland. Each day we would visit a different distillery and castle and would have lunch at one or the other.
On one day, we visited Glenmorangie and I will never forget the experience. Although it was August, Scotland was anything but windy, rainy and chilly. But their hosting facility is in a microclimate that was an oasis, with palm trees nonetheless.
When we arrived, we could sample any of the dozens of types of Scotch they produce. Glenmorangie was one of the first to age whiskey in used wine barrels, which imparts a distinct flavor profile.
Needless to say, by the time we were called to lunch, we were a wee tipsy as we walked to the dining room.
One thing I learned in Scotland, and which was repeated at our video stream event, was to add a few drops of water to the Scotch. Just a few drops makes a dramatic difference in the olfactory projection of the Scotch.
We tasted 5 different examples, two of them from Islay where they had recently acquired a distillery. Glenmorangie is located in the north eastern area and Islay is on the west. But there is a dramatic difference in style: the Islay use peat to the extreme and the aroma of iodine, for me anyway, is overpowering. Either you like it or hate it.
The two I disliked were from the Ardbeg Distillery. But the other three were from the original distillery and they confirmed my belief: if you like Cognac, you’ll also appreciate this style of Scotch.
The examples we tasted in this category were The Original, aged 10 years in American oak barrels; LaSanta, aged 10 years with 2 additional years in Sherry casks; and Allta Private Edition which was created by our host at the video presentation, Dr. Bill Lumsden using a wild strain of yeast.
Scotch, for the record, is made from barley which is fermented and then distilled. Single malt means the scotch from a single batch of barley and is not blended with barley from different areas.
Conclusion: you can appreciate Scotch just like wine and use your sense of sight, smell and taste. The only thing is that after 5 glasses of Scotch, you will have imbibed a lot more alcohol than 5 glasses of wine. So drink wisely!