Old-school whisky stories that tell of how a distillery was first conceived are occasionally accurate and of historic relevance. For me, though, I find the story behind a particular bottle of whisky far more engaging--why did the whisky maker decide to make this whisky in particular? Often the answer is because he or she believes it will sell well. Sometimes, though, it's because they're haunted by a whisky from the past.
Bacalta is one of those whiskies. Dr Bill Lumsden is Glenmorangie's director of distilling. When he spoke of Bacalta, he first spoke of Glenmorangie Madeira Wood Finish. It was a favorite scotch of his that lacked scalability. The Madeira barrel finish was far too variable to produce a consistent product. Madeira Wood Finish was replaced with Nectar d’Or, a delicious scotch in its own right. But, as Dr. Bill Lumsden put it, his thoughts kept coming back to the Madeira Wood Finish.
Glenmorangie's Private Edition are one-of annual releases intended for the Glenmornagie whisky fan. They're reasonably priced, and one-time releases. This year's release was many years in the making. Madeira wine is fortified (meaning that a spirit is added to it) and it's generally briefly aged in barrels under a hot climate. Bill Lumsden needed this fortified wine to be aged for a couple of years in modified European oak barrels, killing the wine itself, but producing properly seasoned barrels that could be used to mature Glenmorangie whisky.
The original scotch that went into the Medeira barrels is Glenmorangie Original aged for about ten years (though with more first-filled oak compared to Original). It than matured for a few additional years in these barrels. When they had it right, it was bottled. It's a beautiful rich scotch, born out of Dr. Bill Lumsden's passion for Madeira.
Category: Single malt scotch, Madeira Finished, 12 Year Old
Nose: Rich hot caramel, loaded with cinnamon spice, brown sugar, honey, and freshly baked gingerbread cookies.
Palate: The cinnamon and caramel notes are beautiful to start, with an intense buttery undercoat that keeps on giving through to the finish. The finish is nice, lightly spiced, some ginger, bit of orange zest. The buttery layer on the palate hangs around beautifully, and it gets dry toward the end, easily encouraging another sip.
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original in any category considering price and availability
There's absolutely nothing subtle about this scotch, and yet it has this gentler flow of flavors that I find endearing. If Bacalta was available annually, I might suggest some patience on buying this whisky. But since once it's gone, it's gone, I'm being more hurried in my recommendation of four stars. I love the balance of rich sweetness to start and the zesty and spicy finish. The layer of mouth-watering butter notes are beautiful. This is a satisfying whisky whether you're a scotch drinker or even a bourbon drinker.
Disclaimer: A sample of this whisky was provided for the purposes of this review. It had no baring on the review.
*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original