Glenmorangie Bacalta Review

“Crossing the Lines”

Whisky Review # 688

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Glenmorangie Bacalta (Private Edition range) 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Bourbon casks with Madeira Finish 
Chill Filtration: No     
Price Range: US Dollars 85-110 (February 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😏 Interesting for Liqueurs - and Fortified Wine lovers!   

Colour: Light Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: This is very Sweet. The influence of the Madeira casks is very strong. This Bacalta sits in the vast No Man's Land between Whisky and Liqueur or Fortified Wine. Your Nose is welcomed by loads of Sweet Dried Fruit like Dates, Raisins and Apricots, all soaked in Rum or Liqueur. All this Sweetness can't hide the fact that we are talking about a relatively Young Glenmorangie Spirit. I know that the Finish took 2 years but I would guess that the Spirit matured in Bourbon casks for 6-8 Years maximum. As a result the Alcohol is quite present. In addition to the Above mentioned Aromas I also find Sweet Barley, Caramel, Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Bounty Candy Bars, Sugared Almonds, Plum Jam, Sweet Apple, Banana, Hay, Orange, Dusty Road, Cinnamon, light Menthol, light Licorice and a hint of Green Tobacco. It's not bad but not quite my thing either!

Palate: The delivery is a little Thin despite the adequate ABV. It's mostly Sweet with a few Sour, Herbal and Spicy notes. The Alcohol is quite present again I'm afraid. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toffee, Caramel, Heather-Honey, Milk Chocolate, The Dried Fruit from the Nose, Sugared Almonds, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, Menthol, Licorice, Sugared Orange Peel, Banana, Charred Oak, Dusty Road, Dried Herbs and hints of Papaya Cream, Green Tobacco and Nail Polish Remover.   

Finish: Middle-Long, Sweet, Sour and Dry with an increasing Bitterness towards the end. The Alcohol bite is noticeable. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toffee, Caramel, Banana, Apple, Nectarine, Sugared Orange Peel, Nuts, Heather-Honey, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla, Charred Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Licorice, Menthol, Cinnamon, Fortified Wine and hints of Black Espresso and Nail Polish Remover.  

Drinking Advice:

The Bacalta does not improve with added Water. 

Rating: 83   

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5

Image result for glenmorangie bacalta

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The production at this Tain based Distillery started in November 1849. By the end of the 1930's the McDonald family took control of Glenmorangie. They only sold the distillery to Vuitton/Moet Hennessy in 2004. Since 1994, Glenmorangie has been very actively experimenting with different Wood Finishes. The current core range includes the Original 10 Years, the 18 years, the Signet and three 12 Year old Wood Finishes i.e. the Quinta Ruban (Port), the Lasanta (Sherry) and the Nectar d' Or (Sauternes). In the last years however, Glenmorangie launched a large number of Special editions and Travel Retail specials. Currently, around 5,5 million litres of Spirit are produced. We visited the distillery in May 2017. The whole place looks impeccable and the Still House (Cathedral), VC and Shop are a true feast to the eye. It's almost a bit too polished for my taste. It's really the complete opposite of a visit to Springbank in Campbeltown. And, to be honest, I prefer the latter!

The Bacalta (Gaelic for Baked) is one of the latest additions to the Glenmorangie Private Edition Range. It was launched in 2017 as were the Astar and the Pride. It is the first Single Malt of this Distillery that was finished in sun-baked Malmsey Madeira casks.

Visit May 2017

🍷  The Spirit 

The distillery operates six pairs of Stills, beautifully lined up in the Cathedral Still House. The Lyne arms are partly straight or with a slightly upwards angle. The stills are the tallest ones in Scotland. They produce a Sweet, light-bodied spirit with Floral, Nutty and Citrus notes. Water is sourced from the Tarlogie Spring.

🌲  The Wood:

The Spirit for the Bacalta first matured in Ex-Bourbon casks. We don't know for how long but my guess would be 6-8 years. The Finish is very special indeed. The casks were made of slow-growth, air seasoned American White Oak. The casks were heavily charred and then transported to Madeira where they were seasoned with Malmsey, the sweetest and best-liked Madeira. The casks were then stored in the rafter of vineyards. This way, the warmth of the sun matures the wine inside. After a few years the casks were shipped to Scotland and the Spirit matured a further 2 years in these casks.

Drinking Experience: Interesting.

ConclusionThere are no laws that prescribe what exact type of wooden casks should or should not be used for the maturation/finishing of Whisky. History has shown that Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks usually give the best results. But it is logical and commendable that distilleries are always looking for innovations in this respect. And Glenmorangie has always been very active in this field. And there are times this works out quite well. The Port Finished Quinta Ruban and the Sauternes finished Nectar d' Or are highly successful and are part of the core range of the Distillery. In my opinion this kind of finishing generally works when the Finish adds an extra touch to the original distillery character. It does not work as far as I'm concerned when the Finish takes total control and leaves the Spirit in the No Man's Land between Whisky, Liqueur and Fortified Wine. I believe the latter is the case with the Bacalta. There are interesting Aromas and Flavours, I won't deny that. And many people might like the Sweetness. But to me it's just a young Glenmorangie, totally controlled by Madeira sweetness. I think Glenmorangie crossed the thin line with the Bacalta. I will eat my French Fries with Mayonnaise or Tomato Ketchup or Mustard or Spicy Curry. But not with Whipped Cream!

Jan van den Ende                                                                February 19, 2017

Visit May 2017

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