Glenmorangie Ealanta Whisky of the Year 2014

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Original post: Glenmorangie Ealanta Whisky of the Year 2014

Bradis wrote:

Another year another Jim Murray Whisky Bible and a newly crowned Whisky of the Year, this time being the Glenmorangie Ealanta.

In explaining his choice, Jim Murray said the unique Glenmorangie had pipped its rival “because it went out and did something very different: not only did it blow me away with its deftness, beauty and elegance, but it gave an aroma and taste profile completely new to me in over 30 years of tasting whisky”.

I am interested to know what everyone's thoughts are on this and if there was a particular release in 2013 that you may have thought would have been a more worthy recipient? On that note it may not be what you consider the best Whisky in the world but one that was a great new release or re-release for this year.

Anything discussion revolving Jim Murray tends to be a very contentious and I know that there are a whole plethora of theories regarding his allegiance to one distillery or another, however for this discussion I would like the focus to be on the Whisky itself and other great releases for this year.

Personally I really enjoyed the Ealanta! and as far as deliciously Moorish drams go this was a highlight for me this year. Would i pick it as Whisky of the year, hmm probably not although I think i would put it in my top 3. My pick for favorite release this year would be the Longrow Rundlets and Kilderkins

4th Nov 2013 03:40 @reply Bradis

Replies (showing 1-30 of 47)

Whisk wrote:

@Bradis Nice topical discussion! Look forward to reading everyone's thoughts.

Personally, I've not tried Ealanta so I can't comment on it specifically. I have tried Astar though, which I believe is a younger version of Ealanta, albeit at cask strength. From what I recall, it was enjoyable enough so I'd be keen to try its older sibling, Ealanta, though I can't imagine I would rank it no. 1?

I know it comes up from time-to-time on Connosr and everyone has their own thoughts on the subject, though I found Murray's comments on caramel interesting as well:

4th Nov 2013 08:35 @reply Whisk

Pandemonium wrote:

Had a sample some time ago, a big fruity complex whisky, but the best? I believe I must have missed something there.

4th Nov 2013 13:25 @reply Pandemonium

@Whisk I'm with you on the Astar bettering Ealanta. Astar, though, wasn't a younger version on that theme. Where Ealanta matured in virgin oak barrels (no previous contents), the Astar matured in barrels that were made of wood hand-selected for the coopers' craft and then held Jack Daniel's for four years before being filled with the whisky that became Astar.

As far as Ealanta winning Best Whisky of the Year, I can't agree. I certainly came no where close to tasting the 1,100 whiskies Jim tried to come to that conclusion, but of the 88 I've tried in 2013 I'd say several dozen bettered the Ealanta. A Kilchoman bourbon cask 5 year old topped the list, several other Kilchomans were up there, Arran Bere Barley stood out, Glen Grant 60 year old Diamond Jubliee was there (it came out in 2012, but I tasted it this year), as were Dalwhinnie 35 year old (a Diageo official bottling), and Braeval 18 year old (bottled by David Stirk's Creative Whisky Company). Did Jim taste any of these? I won't know till I see his book, but it doesn't really matter to me anyway.

I boil "Best of the Year" awards down to one ingredient: Subjectivity. For a human being to consider a whisky, or anything really, to be "the best" suggests the reviewer should have sampled every whisky in the field to determine the one that was better than the rest. Impossible. Each person might pick a different "best" from the samples tasted in a given year.

Jim has his view and I mine; rarely do they jibe.

4th Nov 2013 16:52 @reply two-bit cowboy

olivier wrote:

I think this whole "Best Whisky of the Year" is inane.

One person's judgement very subjective, but more importantly one's judgement changes depending on the day, the mood, what one had to eat before, etc ...

So I do not think anyone can even say "this is my favorite whisky of the year" because that will change from one day to the next.

4th Nov 2013 17:46 @reply olivier

A'bunadhman wrote:

@Bradis: My 'highlight' for the year was Glengoyne Cask batch #1. Right in there with the a'bunadh's and the G/F 105's; a smashing 'drop' (for me)!


4th Nov 2013 19:56 @reply A'bunadhman

CanadianNinja wrote:

I completely agree with @olivier. Nevertheless, it's always a fun discussion topic and if nothing else 'Whisky of the Year', 'World Whisky Awards', etc. inform us of some good/interesting whiskies to look out for ; )

4th Nov 2013 23:12 @reply CanadianNinja

talexander wrote:

I vaguely remember tasting the Ealanta at WhiskyFest NY last year and liking it but given the context of tasting so many whiskies that day, I cannot recall any notes on it or how it may or may not have stood out for me. I couldn't possibly name a "Best Whisky of the Year" as I'm not a critic, so I don't taste new releases and write them up. I have a few that I would say are among the top whiskies for me, but I couldn't go by anything on an annual basis.

5th Nov 2013 02:22 @reply talexander

I just snagged a bottle online. Ealanta is nowhere to be found in my home state, and it probably never will, at least not at liquor stores for purchase. I probably won't open my bottle for a while. Curious what folks think that have tasted it. I'm usually not overly keen on virgin oak maturation, but hey, it's worth a try.

I think Jim Murray's ratings are a little over rated and yes I'm always a little suspicious of a critic that gets really really big. As Lord Acton once said, "Great men are almost always bad men." That's not to say Murray is a bad man, per se, or that he wields "absolute power" in the whisky industry. Is he a great man in terms of his critical standing? I'm not really sure since I'm really not one to say.

By and large, Murray's standards are certainly worth paying attention to, but on the really big recommendations and "winners" for a given year? Eh, maybe not so much. . . . That sort of hype is just that: hype. What could make the Ealanta so "different" and "new"? Judging by what the distiller said in an interview, I didn't see anything that stood out to me.

From Huff Post: Dr. Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s director of distilling and whisky creation, told the Scotsman the single malt was put in virgin white oak casks in before being hidden from prying eyes.

"I hid the barrels in a corner of a warehouse 19 years ago so the whisky didn’t get used in a blend. I first opened [them] three or four years ago and realized I’d created something different," he said.

Here is a quote in the same Huff Post article from Bradis, who started this thread:
"An amazingly tasty whisky, the Ealanta is not the most complex in regards to the flavors that can be discovered, but it is very moorish,"

Moorish is one of those standard whisky terms that sounds a bit stuffy and doesn't really say much, other than the taste was pleasing and created a desire for more. The quote seems like a polite way of saying the whisky wasn't all that complex or interesting but it was tasty nonetheless. In a way, it kind of forms an antithesis to the rest of Bradis's review, which was much more positive and concrete in its impressions than the rather aloof statement that Huff Post picked up. It almost seems as if the anonymous Huff Post writer was attracted to this very thing, rather than anything else. All in all, the review was well written with a touch of personality in the narrative.

I guess not many others online anywhere have reviewed the Ealanta yet. I will be interested to hear what folks think, especially those with ample reviews and tasting experience under their belts. I'm sure the reviews will come flooding in soon enough.

Bradis's first review on Connosr was the Ealanta, and that was in early October. Talk about a bullseye. Was that before or after the Whisky Bible award? Must have been before. Touche.

I must admit that I'm a little jealous that Bradis was quoted in Huff Post and he's only written a handful of review here at Connor. Kinda makes me want to start my own blog or site. P'raps I will, but if I do, I probably won't use the posh term "Moorish" any time soon ; ) It's kind of ironic, considering how Bradis's avatar looks (anything but stuffy).

But I suppose that's the point. Atypical impressions are fun, especially if one is an engineer for a living. My dad is a civil engineer and he's about as conservative as they come. Of course, mining engineers are probably a different breed, altogether, from their civil cousins. Especially if the engineer in question inspects strip mines by day and strip clubs by night. Of course, that's not to say that Bradis would do such a thing.

The Romans were the ultimate strip miners: they had slaves cut a honeycombed nexus of tunnels into a hillside, diverted a stream into the tunnel system, and voila!, out came the desired minerals, as well as the drowned slaves that were purposefully left in the tunnel system after the stream had been diverted. Now that is the ultimate in strip mining. It's also psychopathic.

Nice work, Bradis. You kicked arse on your review. It was either great timing or something less Moorish and more laissez-fairish. Either way, I'm impressed. To quote Shakespeare: "For that I do suspect the lusty Moor hath leap'd into my seat [social standing]; the thought whereof doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw."

6th Nov 2013 02:35 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

I stand corrected: the Ealanta is left in a few stores in Portland OR. Get 'em while you can!

6th Nov 2013 02:41 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

Victor wrote:

My county is sitting on 93 bottles of Ealanta, though I am not at all sure I want to spend $ 90 without tasting it first.

6th Nov 2013 04:10 @reply Victor

Well, Victor, if you put it off long enough, then I fear your sister may sneak a bottle into your Christmas stocking ; )

6th Nov 2013 06:52 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

Wish I'd snagged a bottle of the Springbank R&K. Ever tried that one, Bradis? I was intrigued by your mention of the Longrow. I would get a bottle of the Longrow R&K but I'm kinda "Longrowed out" right now. Just finishing a bottle of the Gaja Barolo 7. It was good but a little over rated, I should think. Before that, I went through a bottle of the Longrow CV. There is a strange fog to the Longrows that can be quite pleasant when one has been away from them for over a year. It's like being invited to the home of an old lost dear friend for dinner. Still, I've supped at that table quite often over the past year. . . . Have a bottle of the Springbank Claret open. It's quite good. The cork seems to be a bit rotty though, which I didnt notice upon opening about a month ago. I may have to shift the contents to another bottle

6th Nov 2013 06:59 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

I was a huge fan of the Artein last year, so I figured I'd go for this one as well. I dropped by the store today to buy a bottle, and the staff informed me about Jim's choice. I didn't know about it beforehand.

I wound up buying two bottles, even though this one is more expensive than the Artein was -- I wished I'd bought two of that when I had the chance, so I thought what the heck. It probably won't get any easier to find any time soon, after all.

6th Nov 2013 10:26 @reply HeartlessNinny

sengjc wrote:

Opened a bottle today and love it. Sits alongside the Astar as my preferred releases from Glenmorangie - perhaps what an Astar will aspire to when it grows up?

Anyway, back on topic, is it deserving of Whisky of the Year? Admittedly, it is fine malt and on this basis, I can say it comes quite close.

6th Nov 2013 12:57 @reply sengjc

Victor wrote:

@rigmorole, the thought of planting the idea in my sister's mind had not yet occurred to me. That is a pretty good plan! Trouble is, I couldn't be subtle this time...she is not yet aware that Ealanta is thus far off of her radar.

6th Nov 2013 14:07 @reply Victor

Victor, you never know. If Bradis's review in Connosr made it into a big article in Huff Post, then anything's possible. You could always buy this year's whisky bible and leave it out in the open next time she visits ; ) Chance are, she will turn to the Whisky of the Year in a matter of seconds if she picks it up . . . . ha!

6th Nov 2013 17:21 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

Victor wrote:

@rigmorole, my sister is more of a contrarian. If it's popular she isn't likely to like it.

6th Nov 2013 17:36 @reply Victor

Contrarians often have the best instincts in these things. Good for her, and you, Victor! Lately, I've become interested in Blackadder. Bottles some very smart stuff, au contraire to mainstream tastes that even accommodate fake coloring and triple filtration these days.

I just don't see the advantage of say an Auchentoshan triple distilling. Raw casks intrigue me. The stuff of rogues and scotch moonshiners from years gone by. Forget single filtration; how about none with nothing added. That's the tenor of my language these days when it comes to scotch. The flavor, mouthfeel, finish and scent of such ichors speak volumes. So far, I've found no floaties in the bottoms of the bottles I've ordered.

I wonder if there are any moonshiners in Scotland? Here is a vid of an American legend at work: fast forward 25 minutes into it: Popcorn Sutton killed himself in 2008 to keep from going to prison at a ripe old age. The title of this vid is misleading. He did indeed keep making "likkor." The filtration in Popcorn's still is a simple cheesecloth bag.

6th Nov 2013 21:19 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

correction: I meant to say Auchentoshan's triple filtration, not distillation. Some other distilleries are also double and triple distilling these days. Seems a bit redundant to me. If the hooch is good then why take away from the character and flavor of what all those years in a cask have created?

6th Nov 2013 21:21 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

vanPelt wrote:

Huh, I just posted an Ealanta review on Nov. 2nd. I wonder when this selection was announced...?

Annoyingly though, my review is not appearing in the search results here on Connosr. Why? Another bug I would really appreciate getting fixed....

Anyway, the upshot is I loved this malt. Within Glenmorangies: not up to the 25yo, Signet, or Sonnalta; but definitely above the rest. [For people trying to draw a comparison with the Astar (which greatly disappointed me), I would say the Ealanta is smoother (balanced) and richer.]

I've tasted better malts this year (for instance reviewed the HP30-- tough competition). But out of "recent releases", I did score Ealanta the highest. The next best that I tried was Sullivan's Cove French Oak; which I just learned incidentally was Murray's "best whisky of southern hemisphere 2013". (Although technically that should have been 2012, since the years are all shifted up.)

6th Nov 2013 22:01 @reply vanPelt

Onibubba wrote:

Surprising. I never would have guessed this would be so well received. It's not bad - Has a nice peaches and cream taste. But it does not last. By the time I got to a quarter of a bottle, that playful peach character had disappeared. I'd rank it 4th out of the Glenmo's I've tasted.

Best whisky this year? I'd have to give it to the Ardbog.

7th Nov 2013 00:45 @reply Onibubba

talexander wrote:

@vanPelt The 25yo is definitely my favourite Glenmo'

7th Nov 2013 02:39 @reply talexander

talexander wrote:

I know the William Larue Weller was his 2nd favourite of the year...does anyone know what any of the other award winners are? Curious to know his pick for the Canadian whisky...

7th Nov 2013 02:41 @reply talexander

Onibubba: I must have drank from a bad bottle. I drank the Arbog alongside the Alligator. It was weak and watery and industrial/petrol/oil-ish compared with the Alligator, which had a rich creamy graham crackery vanilla delight to it.. This year I've tasted quite a few peaty drams that beat the pants off the Ardbog in my estimation. Still, it's really good to hear a Connosr make sweeping statements. I like that. Ballsy.

7th Nov 2013 21:41 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

Onibubba wrote:

@rigmorole Just trying to think of 2013 releases I have tasted and liked. And I liked the 'bog enough to go out and buy 3 more bottles. I'm sure that the Tun 1401 Batch 9 will be the ultimate 2013 winner for me, but I have yet to get my hands on a bottle.

7th Nov 2013 23:43 @reply Onibubba

Onibubba: That's quite interesting. I'd heard the Tun's might go down hill. I've been drinking on a Batch 3 loving it, really outstanding. That's cool that the latest Tun is still quite good. I'll bet the price will go up from the Batch 6.

7th Nov 2013 23:59 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

Jonathan wrote:

I tasted Ealanta at a Glenmo promotional event and really liked it. I think that word that I used was "stunning," and that's not a word that I use very often. 19 years in vigin oak sounds like a Guiness World Record type experiment, but it's actually quite delicate. I tasted it next to Glenmo original, Quinta Ruban and La Santa, all of which I had tried before.

Along with Onibubba, I also very much enjoyed Ardbog enough to pick up another one. I have some friends coming over tonight for a tasting, so maybe I can use that as an excuse to open it. (That's assuming that they like peated whisky. I'll find out soon enough...)

9th Nov 2013 00:18 @reply Jonathan

PMessinger wrote:

@two-bit-cowboy Well said you are certainly right about two points subjectivity and Kilchoman love the stuff and even though Glenmorangie is one of those staple whiskies in my cabinet I can not say whisky of the year. Thanks again for your insights. :)

9th Nov 2013 12:06 @reply PMessinger

BonnieMac wrote:

I'm going to pick up a bottle Tuesday. It's good to see all the reviews here. I'd like to see what "Whisky of the Year" encompasses myself! Cheers

11th Nov 2013 01:48 @reply BonnieMac

SquidgyAsh wrote:

@talexander Jim Murray named the Weller the #2 whisky in the world and the Thomas H Handy Sazerac as #3 whisky in the world.

I personally enjoy reading his notes and such, but I honestly can't take his top whisky recommendations seriously. I've heard that Johnnie Walker Black Label picked up a 96 this year. I was talking to some really good whisky friends and they were saying that his top whisky picks for the last few years were all whiskies that he had a hand in creating/marketing, etc. Not sure how true this is, can anyone confirm it?

17th Nov 2013 14:44 @reply SquidgyAsh

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