This is the ninth Private Edition release, all eight of which were reviewed on the blog. This is part of an ongoing program allowing Dr. Bill Lumsden to try different approaches to whisky, and share the results with the whisky world: The Sonnalta PX highlighted Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, and the second release, the Finealta, tried working off an old recipe, complete with peated barley. The next three editions – Artein, Ealanta, and Companta – highlighted the casks, with Ealanta using virgin oak casks and Artein and Companta matured in wine.
The sixth release, Tùsail was made from a strain of barley not used in whisky distillation for several decades – the Maris Otter – which raised the question of the influence of the barley strain on the flavor of the whisky. The seventh and eighth releases highlighted Portuguese wine. The Milsean was matured in ex bourbon casks, and finished in Portuguese red wine casks, but a layer of charred wood which normally gets scraped off after charring the cask was left on, imparting caramelized sugars into the whisky. Last year’s release, the Bacalta, is basically the 10 year old (although with a higher proportion of first fill barrels) that was finished for two years in special heavily toasted virgin American oak hogshead that were filled with Malmsey Madeira, and left to bake for two years in a process known as ‘canteiro’.
Like last year, Dr. Bill Lumsden and heir apparent Brendan McCarron were brought live over a video link, once again with Vienna and Johannesburg. Local importer Y.D held a beautiful event at an exclusive location in Old Jaffa, and I’ll let you judge for yourself from the pictures:
Which brings us to the Spìos. Spìos (meaning spicy in Gaelic) was fully matured for about nine years (2008-2017, cut it as you may) in American oak casks that held maturing rye whiskey for six years. While no information was provided, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that these are MGP casks. The casks were toasted, then lightly charred. With this, the releases swing back to Ealanta’s North American roots, and highlight what the Original could be like at a higher strength and with rye influence. Interestingly, Dr. Lumsden said a full maturation was chosen as it was felt that the rye needed more time to actually influence the whisky, and that a period of finishing will not get the trick done.
So how is it?
Glenmorangie Spìos, Private Collection Number 9 (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, very slow legs.
Nose: Orange blossom, white pepper, oak, floral notes and a hint of sage. Then mandarin, black pepper notes and raspberry come along, with a dryness on the nose. With time, a hint of bread and a touch of cinnamon come through, with a hit of honey.
Palate: Citrus bitterness and pepper, a wash of sweetness, cloves, cinnamon and a touch of vanilla, flecked by hints of cardamon and some chili pepper.
Linger: Spicy and dry, with a touch of sweetness. Spìos leaves the mouth dry and tingly, and after a bit you get some pound cake.
The rye is extremely noticeable when just poured, making this expression “darker” than the regular 10, and obviously more spicy. As it has time in the glass, you’ll notice its Glenmorangie DNA more and more, bringing it closer to the Origianal. Also, you’ll get the full Spìos effect if you take a rather large sip.
While Spìos is not my favorite Private Edition, it has definitely grown on me as the tasting went on, to the point of getting a bottle (of course, if you read the blog over the past few years, you know that that would have probably happened anyway 😉 ).