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Glenmorangie, Madeira wood finish

Topics: 
Booze

When a whisky gets 'finished', it means that it gets transferred from its first cask to wooden barrels, mostly ex-bourbon barrels to mature during a large amount of time. Traditionally, the type of barrel is always the same, but during the last decade, some distilleries have experimented with other wood finishes in order to get new taste into their whiskies. While I applaud this creativity, I sometimes get the impression that many non-conventional wood finishes are just marketing tricks in order to boost the price up and create a false sense of whisky collector items.

The folks at Glenmorangie are seen as pioneers of the 'wood finish' trend that has come to the world of whisky over the past decade. This is part of the old wood finishes range (burgundy, madeira, port, sherry) that has been replaced in recent months by a new trio of finishes. Port is now called "Quinta Ruban", sherry finish is "Lasanta", and a Sauternes finish called "Nectar d'Or". I got my hands on an older Madeira wood finish; I like Glemorangie, and the Madeira sweet taste blended into the light Glenmorangie seemed an interesting combination. The price was awesomely high, but probably because spanish oak casks that once held madeira are about 10 times more expensive that bourbon casks and still significantly more expensive than wine or wine spirit casks.

Smell : starts interesting with an explosion of caramel, chocolate, apricot and raisins.
Taste : what a disappointment. All the subtleties of Glenmorangie are blown away by the crude taste of Madeira wine. It just tastes like someone mixed a gallon of port wine with some whisky blend, and nothing more. Alcohol exploding in the mouth and leaving you gasping for air. Awefull lot of pepper in the aftertaste.

Sadly, this combination doesn't work (for me). The Madeira finish takes away the mild whisky taste, and is so unexpected, as if you suddenly get smacked in the face by a 10 year old schoolgirl.