Tùsail is the newest of Glenmorangie’s annual Private Edition releases. And, it comes with a fine pedigree laid before it, of equally esoterically named whiskies. Ealanta, the Private Edition release for 2013 won Jim Murray’s prestigious (though much hated, by me) World Whisky of the Year award. With a 19 year maturation in new American oak, Ealanta was, and still is, unlike any other Scotch available. Last year’s release, Companta, was a real stunner, playing around with French fortified wine barrels. It was a bottling that my palate has kept a fond memory of, and a gorgeous colour to boot. The Private Edition range feels like an outlet for the creative minds at Glenmorangie, a chance for them to flaunt their best matured, most expressive stocks, coming from their most unique and exciting casks. It’s no marketing gimmick. It’s the real deal.
Tùsail’s claim to fame comes not from the cask, but from the parcel of barley that composed the mash. For Tùsail, Glenmorangie used a heritage strain of barley called Maris Otter, familiar to beer brewers around the world for its malty, biscuity, full bodiedness, as well as its expense, compared to other strains of 2-row pale malt. The barley for this release has also been floor malted — a tradition mostly abandoned by the whisky industry, with only a few distilleries still undertaking the flagrantly cost ineffective process, and Springbank being the only distillery in Scotland to floor malt 100% of its own barley. Needless to say, for Tùsail, some serious labour was put into the process.
The whisky is bottled at 46% abv, and is not chill filtered.
I won’t go on and on about the colour of the whisky. Suffice to say that it is light, compared to previous Private Edition whiskies. Golden sunbeam, if you really want to know.
Refreshing and light. Freshly kneaded bread dough with a spritz of lemon flesh. A plume of new oak sawdust is buried in there. The whole thing is tame, and a bit shy at first. But, left in the glass, aromas of barley husks, toasted almonds, and marzipan emerge, and sweeten. The crust of a rustic loaf. An afternoon picnic, with an industrious confectioner.
Like a cup of tea, in many ways. The aroma makes a stronger impression than the flavour. It’s a hard thing to pin down, actually. Honey on warm chestnuts.
Very light weight. Not intoxicating, perfectly English. A bit of welcome spiciness right on the tail end.
Rounds off cleanly, leaving a pleasant oaky, slightly nutty note on the tongue. The main event is short, beckoning. A mild creaminess lingers on.
What’s so refreshing about the Private Edition whiskies is how different they are from the standard Glenmorangie line-up. Many of us are well familiar with the Original, and the cask finish series (Nectar D’or, Quinta Ruban, Lasanta). So, it delights the palate and the mind to look forward to a new Glenmorangie Private Edition release, and to know with some confidence that it will likely be coming out of left field. That’s no small feat from a distillery as large and corporate as Glenmorangie.
Tùsail is marked by quality in every category of assessment, and is clearly well above average. It is not, however, the kind of whisky that grabs my tongue and gives it a hearty spanking. It is also not the kind of whisky that I can dim the lights to and mull over. It’s light, refreshing, a perfect opening act. Really an aperitif whisky, to truncate bites of pretzel sticks and fresh seafood, to excite the palate for the next course.
Informed by my tasting of Companta last year, I came to Tùsail with the expectation that I’d be dissecting some strange new creature. Instead, I found an old friend. Balanced and mild, neither tiresome nor uninteresting
What do you think? Leave a comment below. Feel free to give your opinion and correct me on any facts I’ve bungled. Cheers.