BRENDAN MCCARRON doesn’t take long to cut to the chase. He’s in Australia a week after Dramfest in Christchurch, NZ and has something he wants us to hear.
In front of him are three whiskies only a few locally have set eyes on: The Accord 12-Year-Old ($103), The Elementa 14YO ($120) and The Tribute 16YO ($154). All 43% ABV.
“This is a brand new, permanent range for travel retail globally,” Glenmorangie’s head of maturing whisky stocks said.
He’s excited but there was a glint in McCarron’s eye at the mention of The Tribute – Glenmorangie’s first permanent peated whisky in recent history.
If someone had asked Glenmorangie’s long-time whisky maker Dr Bill Lumsden 17 years ago when he started experimenting with adding peated barley to the mix what it would have led to, the answer would not have been thousands of people drinking it worldwide.
“Bill’s super creative and a constant experimenter. Smoke tempers over time, it doesn’t drop away a lot but it drops away a little and it’s only been in the past couple of years that we’ve realised there was a huge amount of potential for that style of whisky,” McCarron said.
Coronavirus was only just beginning to grab Australia by the throat during McCarron’s visit. At the time of the interview, McCarron was planning on flying out of Melbourne on the Saturday as part of his Australian tour and expected hundreds to be flying into the city for Formula 1. However, news of the race’s cancellation would be known by Friday.
When asked, McCarron wasn’t afraid to admit that the pandemic would hurt business but he said it knowing no business would be immune and that unlike limited-edition whiskies dropped into travel retail these new whiskies were here to stay.
“These whiskies are special and will always be there when you’re travelling with an age statement,” McCarron said.
Many whisky drinkers would be familiar with The Original before moving into the different styles of wood maturation found in the new travel range.
The 12YO Accord and 14YO Elementa without the smokiness of The Tribute are the closest next steps from The Original.
Those also familiar with Glenmorangie The Lasanta will find similarities in The Accord. Although, while The Lasanta is finished in oloroso and Pedro Ximinez sherry casks, The Accord is aged in ex-bourbon and finished in oloroso sherry casks only. The result is “a punch of richness, depth and spiciness that great sherry whisky should have,” McCarron said.
The Elementa spends 13 years in ex-bourbon casks and its final nine to 12 months in virgin American white oak. It’s creamy with vanilla, lemon peel and crystalised ginger.
To ensure The Tribute doesn’t overwhelm drinkers with its smokiness McCarron has blended 50 per cent of peated whisky with 50 per cent of traditional, non-peated Glenmorangie.
“There’s a little bit of smoke upfront but then it’s very fragrant. Most Glenmorangie I’d describe as fruity and then floral but here the fruit is less and it’s more floral like hay that’s dried out on a farm, cut grass and fresh flowers, even a little bit of milk chocolate,” McCarron said.