GENTLEMAN WITH A CAKE
Tasting Glenmorangie whisky with Dr. Bill Lumsden at Astor Wine & Spirits
Central Park. Morning. Little fog… A man on a wooden bike… Scary??
It’s Dr. Bill Lumsden from Glenmorangie. Rebel and renegade. He breaks traditions, makes experiments and he invents unique whiskies in Scotland. And sometimes rides a bike in the Central Park: the bike made with Glenmorangie barrels in Oregon.
I’m running through Manhattan. It’s late. The tasting starts in a minute… But yeah, I’m on time! Going inside the old De Vinne Press Building at a corner of 4th and Lafayette Streets. One of my favorite places in NY: Astor Wines and Spirits, fulfilled with a lot of pleasures…
Dr. Bill once again. This time without a bike: with bottles and glasses instead. Talking about whisky, ideas, history and his rebellious performance in Glenmorangie.
Glenmorangie means valley of tranquility in Scots Gaelic. This unique distillery was founded by William Matheson in 1843 in the Scottish Highlands. Do you remember my story about Langmeil Winery from Australia? In 1843 Christian Aurich planted his first vines: Shiraz, used up till now for making legendary „Freedom“ wine. I think 1843 was a special year…
Glenmorangie Original ten-year-old single malt ($39,99) is matured for ten years in ex-bourbon casks. It’s an ideal whisky to start an adventure with this alcohol. Delicate, with a great balance, very soft and creamy. If you love wine, this is perfect for you: you have the impression you drink mix of wine and whisky. It’s really fruity and fresh with aromas of oranges and peaches. It’s an excellent „everyday“ whisky.
I got a special signed bottle of Original from Dr. Bill and I hoped to have it for my own purposes–you know: little something before going to sleep… Unfortunately, my friends came two days after Astor tasting and I was forced to share the bottle, but I found an idea to spare less amount of my secret gift: I made „The Golden dessert“: mix Ricotta cheese, chopped dried apricots, and Glenmorangie Original. Dried apricots are great for a blood pressure, cheese is full of proteins, and Glenmorangie is just good for everything. Especially: blue mood.
Next tasted bottle was Nectar d’Or ($69,99) –one of Dr. Bill’s inventions: unusual whisky matured in wine barrels from Sauternes (after maturing 10 years in white American Oak).
Sauternes is a French region famous for outstanding sweet wines, called as ‘Liquid Gold’ (d’Or in French). Maturing whisky in such barrels brings rich and spicy flavors to the glass: lime, orange rind, raisins, and dates. In a mouth, you can feel almonds, ginger, maybe a little hint of nutmeg. I was really surprised by the finish: long and sweet with lemon zest, vanilla, chocolate… I know – it may sound strange and totally non-whisky, but it is truly amazing whisky.
Imagine you noticed a good-looking, well-mannered and classy gentleman in the cafe. He was eating an orange-almond cake. Wasn’t he a gentleman anymore because of eating a cake? No. He was still a gentleman; More: he has been unspeakably interesting gentleman since then.
The same is with Nectar–very interesting whisky with a lot of mysteries and surprises for all.
The most shocking bottle for me was Signet ($199,96) – a blend of the oldest whisky, distilled over thirty years ago and matured in American white oak casks. Stunning bottle design and packaging, but the best is of course inside: whisky of the 2016 year, awarded a Gold Medal for „The Scotch Whisky Masters“ by The Spirit Business 2016.
It seems unbelievable, but the most significant aroma you feel there is a strong, fresh espresso from Italian cafe. My God! You have to try it! Dr. Bill decided to use unique roasted barley malt, called chocolate malt, and he made rich and spicy whisky, very creamy and totally stunning. In the glass, you feel sherry, candied orange peel, mocha, cocoa, mint: the unlimited complexity of flavors and tastes. Each sip brings you new impressions and emotions. And makes your imagination work hard.
Besides, it is an extraordinary gift when you need to give something special, interesting and incredibly good looking, regardless you buy it for a woman or a man.
GRAND VINTAGE 1990
Finally: the Star was born. Grand Vintage 1990 ($599,99) single malt.
My daughter Magdalena is also 1990, so I am personally sure that‘s a true Grand Vintage. The difference between her and Glenmorangie lays mainly in a way of maturing: Glenmorangie 1990 spent 25 years in casks (ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) while Magda spent her life in the fresh air, only now she is pretty close to casks and wine barrels.
Anyway, Grand Vintage 1990 shows the classical and eternal beauty. It’s also rich and full of subtle aromas, among which you can find pear, apple, and honey. Keeping it in your mouth you feel silkiness and creamy texture, filled with an orange syrup. After swallowing the last sip, you stay with an impression of eating baked apples and biscuits dipped in a great whisky. Stunning combination for the fall and the winter…
I left Astor Wines and Dr. Lumsden with a huge sadness… But also with a big hope for the next tastings and meetings. See you there, too!
Astor Wines and Spirits (399 Lafayette at 4th Street, Manhattan, NYC) regularly organize in-shop tastings: Check their website for the next events: astorwines.com
Dr. Bill Lumsden is A Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks in Glenmorangie Company (Glenmorangie & Ardbeg)