Our Director of Whisky Creation and Distilling, Dr Bill Lumsden, has been working on Glenmorangie Duthac for many years, experimenting with this new expression which would become the first in The Glenmorangie Legends Collection. In some ways, he’s actually been working on it since he first joined Glenmorangie more than 20 years ago, since he first called the Highlands his home. In thrall to the land and its legends, Dr Bill had long planned a collection themed around ancient tales from The Royal Burgh of Tain where our whisky is made.
One of those tales recalls the annual pilgrimage of Scotland’s King James IV along ‘The King’s Route’ to the shrine of St Duthac in Tain where our distillery is found. St Duthac is Tain’s patron saint, a ‘worker of miracles’ born in the town some 1,000 years ago. The pilgrimage he inspired became incredibly popular at the end of the Medieval period and the ruins of a chapel built in his memory still stand today. Even now ‘The King’s Route’ through the rocky Highlands and out into the golden barley fields in the country’s far north east is still a popular trail.
King James IV made the difficult journey 18 times. As devout and dedicated as this shows him to be, we also know that this dynamic and energetic Scottish monarch was an intellectual, modern for his time, keen on commerce, culture and, when possible, leisure. In 1494 he commissioned a Scottish monk to produce ‘acqua vitae’ for him, this being the earliest written record of distilling in Scotland. Eight years later he lifted the ban on golf (which had been a distraction for his archers) and set an example by purchasing a set of golf clubs, making him the first named golfer in history.
And so, our new whisky expression, the first of our Legends Collection, celebrates the pilgrimage which King James IV made so often in St Duthac’s name. Dr Bill Lumsden has worked his own miracles in creating it, ensuring that The Duthac is a whisky “fit for a King”.
Glenmorangie Duthac is deep bronze in colour, finished in casks which originally contained the most venerable of all sweet sherries, those made with Pedro Ximenéz grapes which are dried in the sun to produce a wine that is dark and treacly yet entirely fresh. We use these retired ‘PX’ casks along with charred virgin oak casks. The result is a sublime liquid, intense and beguiling.
_“There was much tinkering going on right up until the last minute, which is normal for us,” says Dr Bill. “We’re always fine tuning, getting the balance of flavours just right, seeking perfection.
“Its flavour profile is approximately halfway between our Quinta Ruban and Signet. Quinta Ruban is the company’s cornerstone of wood finishes while Signet is our most intense expression and probably the richest of all Highland malts.”_
With The Duthac there is the nose of pear and toffee apple, some nuttiness and spiciness as well as toasty oak. Then there’s the ideal harmony between the sweetness of the sherry casks and spicy elements from the charred virgin oak, a mouth-filling palate of milk chocolate, toffee, leather and aniseed with gentle hints of ginger and clove. Then classic Glenmorangie can be sensed at the finish with vanilla, apricots in cream and some almond marzipan. In the Glenmorangie way of things, even allowing for the extravagant wood finish, it’s undeniably easy-drinking. Yet its complexity is significant. And despite the origin of its name, Glenmorangie Duthac is not just a pilgrimage. Rather, it is a rewarding journey through the senses.
Glenmorangie Duthac is the first release in The Glenmorangie Legends collection. This new range of single malts is exclusive to travel retail - international duty free shops – and becomes available from March 2015. A second whisky in the Legends Collection will be released in 2016.