Grand Vintage Malt 1989
An inspired assemblage
For more than a century, Glenmorangie’s pure spirit was distilled within the familiar walls of our former still house. But at the end of the 1980s, desire for our fine Highland single malt whisky soared ever higher. And all at the Distillery knew that the tenure of this venerable, yet diminutive building must soon draw to a close...
By 1990, Warehouse No.1, the largest of Glenmorangie’s 19th century Bonded warehouses, had been transformed into a majestic new still house, extensive enough to house further stills. We celebrate its heritage in our Vintage Collection Bond House No. 1 – a series of rare vintage expressions, marked for greatness from their origin years. Each expression in the collection is captured in its prime by our skilful whisky creators, and deemed ready to share, only at their behest.
Today, that new still house is locally known as ‘Glenmorangie’s Highland cathedral’. But the era of its predecessor holds a special place in the Distillery’s story. In the powerful complexity of Bond House No. 1’s second release, Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1989, we honour its memory.
Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1989 was distilled during the very final days of that former still house. As its irreplaceable spirit lay maturing many years ago, it captured the imagination of Bill Lumsden, our Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks. “I was fascinated by the distinctive character of that year’s spirit, so inextricably linked with the heritage of the former still house,” he explained. “Never again would Glenmorangie be distilled in that familiar old building – and I believed that we could celebrate its legacy in a truly momentous whisky.”
Taking select parcels of 1989’s seminal spirit, Dr Bill Lumsden arranged for them to be finished in a handful of highly sought-after casks. These included superior ex-wine casks, the finest ex-Oloroso sherry casks and superior ex-bourbon casks. Yet most prestigious of all, was a parcel extra-matured in casks which once had contained Côte-Rôtie wines. Named after the steep hillsides on which the Côte-Rôtie vineyards are located, these wines are renowned for their contrastingly floral and meaty aromas. The power of their casks had never before been harnessed by Glenmorangie – and Dr Bill Lumsden was curious to discover the character they might bring to Glenmorangie’s soft spirit.
“It is highly unusual to mature whisky in ex-Côte-Rôtie wine casks. They are difficult to get hold of, you have to be very judicious in your use of them – and of course, you have to ensure that you achieve the perfect marriage with other casks...”
After almost three decades of careful maturation, Dr Bill Lumsden judged that each of these exquisite parcels of whisky had reached their very best. Then, he brought them together once more, in a most complex assemblage of casks. Every parcel would bring its own character to the whisky, perfectly complementing the rare spirit from the ex-Côte-Rôtie casks.
“This really is a fitting second release for our exclusive Bond House No. 1 Collection,” Dr Bill Lumsden said. “In Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1989 we have achieved an integration of Glenmorangie’s finesse, ripe red fruit notes from the ex-wine casks and oaky depths. For an expression of such great age, its sweet and smoky aromas are immensely varied – and its complex tastes are gloriously intense and rich.”
It seems that the mastery required to bring Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1989 to fruition, has not gone unnoticed. Renowned author of the Whisky Bible, Jim Murray, described it as: “a stunning, silky blend of a single malt where the flavour profile – and even texture – has obviously been sculpted”. He added: “As much a work of art as a dram.”
Meanwhile, our former still house still plays a vital part in the work of the Distillery. Soon after its tenure ended, the building was converted into a part of a new reception centre and museum. Now, filled with new purpose, it brings the Distillery’s past alive for the many visitors who journey from across the globe, to discover the place in which we have been handcrafting Glenmorangie since 1843.