Thursday, 4 February 2016

Whisky Discovery #1560

Glenmorangie Private Edition 'Milsean' 46% abv
Highland Single Malt
Circa £76.00 70cl

Private Edition
Candy stripes on the bottle seal but wait till you see the box!

We always look forward to marking the start of the year with a Glenmorangie Private Edition release! On cold grey Tuesday afternoon in mid-January, we sneaked out from our respective 'day jobs' early in order to make the 1700 train into London and headed down to Browns Hotel Ablemarle Street to join Dr. Bill Lumsden and his team for the launch of the latest release in Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series.

Milsean (pronounced ‘Meel-shawn’) meaning 'sweet things' in Scots Gaelic, marks the seventh release in this range, and follows Tusail in 2015, Companta in 2014, Ealanta, Artein, Finealta and Sonnalta PX from previous years.

In a packed room, dressed with jars of Flying Saucers, Dolly Mixtures, Sherbet Lemons and icing sugar dusted Bon-bons (both strawberry, and lemon flavours) to remind you of an old-fashioned sweet shop. Dr Bill Lumsden commenced proceedings with a dram of The Original, the single malt that almost all of the Glenmorangie releases start from.
I wish all sweet shops looked like this!
OK, perhaps the sweet shop was a little stretch of the imagination with the back wall lined with alternate bottles of The Original and the new Milsean, but there were plenty of sweets to go round, and we all had at least one bag of sweets to take home with us. Dr Bill explained his love of old-fashioned sweets before going off piste for a short while, telling a story of the state of teeth in Scotland, and his relationship with his dentist!

Back on script Dr Bill went on to explain how the Private Edition series came to be. Prior to the first release, Glenmorangie had released some single cask editions that were very well received (and now highly collectable) but single casks make each release very limited, and exclusive, and a wider release was desired.

Extra-maturation is a process pioneered by Glenmorangie. Whisky is first matured in one type of cask (such as ex-bourbon), then is transferred into a different type of cask (such as ex-wine casks) where it spends additional years gaining further layers of flavour. With a greater outturn the risk is higher, so for the first Private Edition release Dr. Bill decided to stick with a known 'finishing' cask, Pedro Ximenez Sherry.

Milsean is the first Glenmorangie expression to be extra-matured in heavily toasted Portuguese red wine casks. Milsean, draws on the effect of charred wine casks, unlocking an unusual dimension in extra maturation.

Created from Glenmorangie first matured in ex-bourbon oak casks, Glenmorangie Milsean then spent a number of years in casks which had contained Portuguese red wine. Yet before they were used to create a Glenmorangie Private Edition, the casks were heavily charred to enhance the sweeter notes of Glenmorangie, which has created a whisky with such attractive hints of sweetness, that it has surpassed even his expectations.
Tthe Douro valley is said to be one of the most distinctive terroirs in the history of world viticulture
Before presenting the Milsean, Dr Bill had a glass of the Portuguese Red Wine for us to adjust our senses while introducing future successor Brendan McCarron who played a major part in creating this new release.

Dr Bill told us: “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. I hope its deep tastes of cherries, angelica, candied orange peel and unusual intensity of caramelised fruits, will surprise and delight whisky aficionados and malt connoisseurs.”

Bottled at 46% abv, and non-chill filtered for extra body and texture, Glenmorangie Milsean will be available from specialist whisky shops worldwide, including The Whisky Exchange, Soho’s Vintage House, Selfridges and Royal Mile Whiskies from 19th January 2016

mmmm Flying Saucers and even a hint of giraffe!

So What Did We think?

Kat says: The difference with this year's release that interested me was the way the cask was toasted. The wine cask was re-toasted over a brazier of oak chips before the whisky went in, instead of the whisky going straight into a wet cask. Their plan was to make a whisky that smells and tastes like old fashion sweets. This explains the red and white stripped packing resembling the striped paper bags you get in the older or traditional British sweet shops. It's very cute, very playful.

Nose: Begins with a full on sugar hit, full of fudge, Dolly mix sweets, sticky sweet tobacco and figs. With some time in the glass, the more familiar house style of orange zests starts coming through with more aromatic notes specifically picking up bay leaves. Lacing between all of this, more robust notes of toasted coconuts and sesame seeds, adding some good depth. The general feel is sweet without feeling sticky or clinging, the sweetness being uplifted by the zesty notes, and the toasted aromas offering dryness offering some balance to the sweetness.

Taste: It came as no surprise that the sweetness carries on through into the taste. Found it to be a straightforward sweetness of white caster sugar, with the same consistency as watered down sugar syrup. Following on is orange zests, providing a nice all-round light coating of orange essential oil, same as the nose, this provides a balance to and lifting the sweetness stopping it becoming sickly sweet. As time goes on, other notes that were picked up on the nose is pretty much mirrored in the taste and in a similar sequence. Leather notes and toasted coconut emerges with some welcome dryness, allowing spice notes of mace and nutmeg to come through. Subsequent sips still begin with plenty of sweetness but turns more complex, becoming more of Dolly mixture sweets and fudge.

Finish: Here surprisingly, it’s not overcome with sweetness but of toasted oak and coconuts. Some of the essential oils are also here, with some spices that vanish a bit too quickly for me. Would say a medium finish but only because I wished it would linger for a little longer.

Dave Says: Well not quite as much as Kat! When someone is waxing lyrical about something they are passionate about, it's easy to be led through the power of suggestion, especially when you're in a room dressed as a sweet shop, with open jars and bags of sweets that we were 'expected' to find during the tasting. It had been an awfully  long time since I'd had 'Flying Saucers' and these made a very happy food pairing with Milsean for me! Fortunately not only did we get to enjoy this at the launch event, we were also sent a review sample to follow up on.

Whilst this is a very sweet dram, something I picked up on both at the tasting and at WDHQ, was that the distillery character certainly comes through and much more evident than the previous four editions that we've tasted.

Nose: There really is a great deal going on in here. The sweet shop notes are all here as initially directed, Dolly Mixtures and Sherbet Lemons for me. The bags of sweets given to us at the beginning of the tasting made a great reference point for candied fruity notes. I picked up some summer fruit notes too though, raspberries in particular. The 'house-style' orange notes were clear but there was also an interesting toasted coconut flavour.

Palate: This is a definitely a dessert whisky. with soft fudge leading the flavours, before a cornucopia of sweet fruits evolve, with ripe cherry, golden plum, melon, mango and a hint of BBQ'd pineapple, alongside citrus, which was more grapefruit than orange for me. The sweetness is balanced by the spices that follow, ginger predominantly but hints of cinnamon were noted, and I found that toasted coconut coming across towards the short and sweet finish.

Finish: As mentioned above, short and sweet is most apt. There are so many interesting flavours, both on the nose and on the palate, but once swallowed, it seems to finish abruptly.

Verdict: Definitely moreish! Compared with the previous two releases, this stayed much closer to the house style and flavours of The Original. It is a seriously sweet dram and those without a sweet tooth, this is not the whisky for you. Dr Bill and his team set out to make a whisky that resembled the smells and tastes of an old-fashioned sweet shops and Milsean pretty much did that.

This was also the second time we had met Dr. Bill Lumsden, and was very happy that we managed to have a good chat with him. We discussed the flavour profile of the previous release Tusail and what the Maris Otter barley brought to that whisky. Kat told him how she would be interested in doing a side by side comparison with Tusail and The Original, and Dr. Bill agreed this would be an interesting comparison. Something they carried out at the time, with The Original acting as a control.

Having been fortunate to taste the last four Private Editions we'd really like to run a tasting with them all alongside each other with The Original acting as control. At the time of the release of Ealanta, I wasn't a huge fan. I'm not sure 'I got it' then, so would really love to revisit it. Now to get my hands on a bottle of Ealanta…

Slàinte! Dave and Kat

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