Always an exciting part of the beginning of the year, Glenmorangie’s latest Private Edition release is upon us. For 2018, it’s Glenmorangie Spìos (Scots Gaelic for ‘spice’ and pronounced ‘spee-oss’), the distillery’s first single malt whisky fully matured in American ex-rye whiskey casks. As usual, no age statement is offered.
I was initially skeptical that this would work well considering the disparity between ethereal Glenmo and American rye, but what an interesting combination Spios turns out to be. The nose retains that classic Glenmorangie delicacy, but punches it up with some Emeril-style bam! spiciness.
The nose has that classically Glenmo floral element but here it’s impregnated with lots of baking spice, particularly cloves. A stronger vanilla note, driven by time in American oak, is evident, though the barley backbone remains unmistakable. This feels like a younger expression of Glenmorangie that conceivably could have benefited from more time in cask.
The palate is heavy with malt notes, a biscuity flavor developing alongside a more pastoral, grassy character. Here the rye influence is less instantly evident than it is on the nose, with elements running again to cloves, some dark chocolate, and toasty grains. Again, there’s some youth apparent here, the finish falling back to its barley roots. That’s not a crime, but it doesn’t let the barrel treatment shine quite as much as I suspect the distillery would have liked.