The “Barrel Select” releases appear to have become an annual event from Glenmorangie, although there’s still no trace of them anywhere on the distillery’s website that I can find. Using my impressive deductive skills, I’m assuming these are limited offerings focusing on special cask finishes apart from those associated with the core lineup and other Private Editions. We enjoyed last year’s Malaga Cask Finish (presumably the first of these), and now we have the latest offering to investigate, Cognac Cask Finish. According to the interwebs, this single malt is aged for eight years in ex-bourbon casks and then finished for four years in ex-Cognac casks, but you, me, and most other fourth graders out there see the faulty math in that. Presumably things ran a bit longer on the aging or finishing side and got ahead of the press folks. As is clearly evident, there’s quite a lot I don’t really know about this bottle. But I can at least tell you if it’s any good.
The aroma showcases a lot of juicy white grape and tropical notes of guava and mango. Lemon and buttery pastries, so common to this Highland malt, are present in abundance, so much so that had I nosed it blind, I might not have even detected a finishing. With more time to open, a subtle leathery quality arrives that adds welcome contrast to the classic distillery character. On the palate, the finishing is more immediately apparent with that white grape and spicy French oak shining brighter. Notes of clove-studded orange and vanilla custard ride an oily wave, accented with a bit of peppercorn and candied citrus, into a gently warming finish of tobacco, baking spice, and juicy stone fruit. More internet sleuthing suggests that Dr. Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s whisky-maker in chief, used third and fourth-fill Cognac casks for this release to ensure the finishing didn’t overpower the underlying single malt. Mission accomplished, in my humble opinion. Another solid addition to the Glenmorangie catalogue, even if I did have to dig around for the deets.