Visiting Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, is always a real pleasure. But when it’s combined with the opportunity to taste a new and sublime single malt whisky that will only be available to a few people around the world, it is doubly so.
On a chilly late winter evening I was invited with a select few to sample Glenmorangie Pride 1981, a 28-year-old whisky that is available in an extremely limited edition. But it would be wrong to simply refer to the containers as decanters. They are literally works of art, specially designed and presented in a striking bespoke crystal decanter and wooden case which only serves to highlight the joys to be found inside.
Producing a unique malt takes years of careful planning and creativity. No-one knows more about this than Dr. Bill Lumsden, who heads up Glenmorangie’s Whisky Creation Team, and is the acknowledged Guru of Malt. His enthusiasm for his work is infectious – spend an hour in his engaging company and you will quickly discover that there is a whole world of complexities, tastes, colours, and secrets attached to producing a bottle of good malt. Dr. Bill literally has spent years with his colleagues perfecting this latest example of craftsmanship. Three decades ago, the original whisky of Pride 1981 was distilled and selected to mature in Glenmorangie’s finest oak casks. As the years of maturation progressed, this whisky was marked out as being very special. By 1999, the liquid had transformed into an exquisite vintage 18 Year Old, a single malt Scotch whisky of serious distinction. Inspired by the very quality of this whisky Dr. Bill decided to push himself further to craft an even more outstanding liquid. The first step was acquiring an extremely limited number of Sauternes ‘Barriques’ from the vineyard of Château d’Yquem – and thus conceived the plan to create this masterpiece.
The Château d’Yquem Sauternes is celebrated for its exceptional taste and renowned for its complexity, concentration and sweetness. Château d’Yquem is the only wine from the Sauternes region to be awarded the Premier Cru Supérieur rating, a classification for Bordeaux wines, and is deemed to be a class above the rest.
Glenmorangie Pride 1981 was extra-matured in these Sauternes casks for a further ten years – the longest period any Glenmorangie whisky has ever undergone extra-maturation. The resulting liquid is a rich, opulent deep gold colour.
For those not yet au fait with malt whisky, the secret lies in four areas – nose, taste, finish, and balance. Like a fine wine, all these key aspects have to interplay to make a malt something special. According to Dr. Bill the resulting malt Glenmorangie Pride 1981 is the “ pinnacle of their efforts.”
Without doubt Glenmorangie have pulled off something special with this fine whisky. Pride 1981 stands head and shoulders amongst the others, with its aromas and flavours and subtleties. The influence of the Sauternes casks produces the delectable scent and full texture of desserts such as apple tart, with sprinklings of Demerara sugar, nutmeg and aniseed, all underpinned by rich oak tones. Importantly it also has a long, lingering finish, succulent and sweet with sultanas, toasted almonds and the memory of lemon and coconut desserts.
To celebrate the release of this exceptional whisky The Glenmorangie Company has commissioned two design talents to create a unique objet d’art as packaging. Just as the liquid of Pride 1981 fuses the traditions of whisky creation with viniculture, the packaging unites the contrasting crafts of glass crystal and wood design.
The curvaceous Baccarat crystal decanter is the work of talented French designer Laurence Brabant. It is encased in a wooden box conceived by the Dutch designer, Wouter Scheublin, a rising star of furniture design. The whisky is impressive but the case itself has a classic beauty that fuses form with function and glides open, revealing a sensual crystal decanter which holds the deep gold liquid.
With only one thousand decanters available from July only a fortunate few will have the unique experience of acquiring a truly great single malt. And for those who are true aficionados of the water of life, the price of 2750 Euros per decanter will probably not be a barrier.