Dr. Bill Lumsden

Review: Glenmorangie Spios Single Malt Whisky

Glenmorangie Private Edition 9 Spios_Bottle and Pack on transparent background copy

Photo courtesy of Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie’s base whisky, aged in ex-bourbon barrels, is known for its light floral and honey notes.  From this base, the distillery’s core lineup utilizes different cask types for secondary maturation: port, sherry, and Sauternes.

For their Private Edition series, experimentation is the name of the game.  Glenmorangie’s played around with additional cask types for secondary maturation.  They’ve even changed the type of barley used in their whisky for one bottling.

Glenmorangie Spios (Gaeilic for spice), ninth in the Private Edition series, sees the first use of rye whiskey casks for full maturation of a single malt.  Recently there was a Johnnie Walker blend that was finished in rye casks, but to my recollection Glenmorangie Spios is the first Scotch single malt whisky to fully mature in American ex-rye casks.

The nose is wonderfully balanced. Hints of vanilla and rye spice are at the forefront, followed closely by cardamom, toffee and light floral notes. The palate, like the nose, carries the Glenmorangie Original flavor profile with a spice kick. Light toffee and creamy vanilla start things off. The rye cask influence soon develops, adding rye spice and a sprinkling of herbs, including dill – a note frequently found in rye whiskey. There is a slightly buttery quality here as well. The medium length finish keeps those sweet and spicy notes going, turning slightly dry after a few moments.

Glenmorangie whisky maker Dr. Bill Lumsden’s fascination with wood pays off yet again. Spios keeps the light character Glenmorangie is known for, while adding that bit of spice and herbs. The rye casks don’t overpower in any way. Rather, they complement the delicate distillate and in turn provide a whisky any Glenmorangie fan is sure to enjoy. 8.5/10


Thanks to Glenmorangie for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Glenmorangie Milsean Single Malt Scotch Review

Photo courtesy of Glenmorangie.

Photo courtesy of Glenmorangie.

The seventh and latest entry to Glenmorangie’s Private Edition line is Milsean.  This limited edition non-age statement (NAS) expression, bottled at a healthy 46% abv, begins with Glenmorangie matured in ex-bourbon casks.  The whisky is then transferred to deeply toasted wine casks for a secondary maturation lasting several years.  Dr. Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation for Glenmorangie, set out to make a whisky that reminded him of the sweets available in a traditional confectioner’s shop.  The packaging is even reminiscent of candy stripes.  Of the new expression, Lumsden said:

“A glass of Glenmorangie Milsean transports me straight to an old-fashioned sweet shop with its sweet and spicy bouquet, with hints of sugar cane, ripe fruits and fudge. Extra-maturing Glenmorangie in heavily toasted red wine casks for the first time, has allowed us to create a whisky recalling a bygone era.”

The wine casks used for secondary maturation previously contained Portuguese red wine.  Toasting these casks caramelized the wine sugars as well as wood sugars from the barrel.  These casks were involved in a “pioneering experiment” before being used for this new expression.

Let’s take a look at how this new Glenmorangie expression tastes.

Glenmorangie Milsean

The nose is full of sweet, ripe fruit, brown sugar and delicate spice.  Deep down is a touch of salted toffee alongside a hint of wine.  Overall, the aroma isn’t overly sweet, but comes across as slightly richer than Glenmorangie’s standard 10-year-old expression.  On entry, cinnamon candy tingles the tongue, followed by caramelized fruit, vanilla ice cream and citrus (which comes across as those chewy orange candies).  It brightens up a bit towards the end of the mid-palate.  The finish starts off spicy, then develops into refreshing tropical fruit and slightly astringent oak.

This is the sample kit I received. It contains a 100mL sample bottle, a Glenmorangie-branded nosing glass, and a USB drive filled with photos and product information.

The sample kit I received contained a 100mL sample bottle, a Glenmorangie-branded nosing glass, and a USB drive filled with photos and product information.

The press materials paint this whisky as one that’s extremely sweet.  Instead of saccharine sweetness, Glenmorangie Milsean exhibits caramel richness, fruity sweetness and a vibrant combination of spice and crisp citrus.  Together, these flavors come together very nicely.  Dr. Lumsden has created a very interesting expression with Milsean that can be enjoyed anytime, especially after dinner.  I can’t wait to taste what’s next.

(Note: A review sample was provided by Glenmorangie.)

Glenmorangie “The Original” Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review

Dr. Bill Lumsden is obsessed with wood.  Lumsden is head of distilling and whisky creation for the Glenmorangie Company, which owns the Ardbeg and Glenmorangie distilleries.  If you examine the range of Glenmorangie expressions, you get an idea of Lumsden’s fascination with how different barrels affect his whisky.  The distillery pioneered the idea of finishing whisky, which is a brief secondary maturation in a different type of barrel than used during the primary maturation.

Glenmorangie owns a forest in Missouri.  Casks made from this good ole’ American oak are leased to some American distilleries.  Heaven Hill is rumored to be one.  These American distilleries age their bourbon, then turn over the used barrels to Glenmorangie.

Glenmorangie 10yr

The youngest Glenmorangie whisky aged in these barrels is their 10-year-old expression: Glenmorangie The Original.  Most, if not all, of the rest of their expressions then go on to a brief secondary maturation in a variety of different casks, like the new Glenmorangie Milsean, which is finished in re-toasted ex-wine casks.

Glenmorangie The Original is the distillery’s simplest whisky expression.  Ten years in first and refill ex-bourbon casks.  That’s it.  But don’t let that simplicity fool you.  Glenmorangie’s stills, the tallest in Scotland, produce a light and floral spirit that, combined with meticulous wood management, lead to a sweet, complex whisky.  This expression is bottled at 43% abv.

Glenmorangie 10yr B

The nose is on the lighter side, but still maintains a richness about it with notes of light toffee, honeysuckle and vanilla.  Sweet malt provides a rich quality, while lemon rind adds some brightness.  Those last two aromas mentioned are the first flavors encountered on the entry.  The bourbon cask maturation adds a bit of sweet toffee and some vanilla bean, as well as a bit of well-integrated oak.  Then there’s light fruit and the not-quite-subtle floral character.  No flavor note outweighs another, giving us a beautifully balanced whisky.  The finish is full of honeyed malt.  It’s clean and doesn’t last too long.

This isn’t a “heavy” whisky.  Instead it’s a highly flavored, delicate whisky.  I can see why this is the best selling single malt whisky in Scotland.  Glenmorangie “The Original” is one to pull out for a friend who’s never tasted Scotch.  At the same time, it should please even experienced whisky drinkers.  Recommended!

(Note: A review sample was provided by Glenmorangie.)