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With my recent (good) impression of the current Glenmorangie range, and the way they are prepared to take a few risks and try a lot of experimentation to come up with unique new bottlings, naturally the flagship dram, the Signet, has been on my radar for a while. Nearly a year ago when I last visited my usual purchasing place in person (I buy online), the gents behind the counter said it was one of the few drams in the price range that is actually worth the money. Still, at around $275 a bottle, it was always something that I wanted, but I could never bring myself to fork out the money for. So when I noticed a $100 off sale on the Signet in their newsletter I decided (with permission from the boss, my wife) to take the plunge!
Apparently this is the result of several years of experimentation. According to various sources around the traps, a portion of the whisky is made from 'chocolate malt,' which is industry speak for malt that is kilned at a higher temperature. This is supposed to increase complexity, and emphasise caramel and vanilla notes. Most often it is used in mild dark ales and stouts that have a sweet edge. It also has some Cardboll barley malt in it, which is said to result in a creaminess. Matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and new lightly toasted Ozark American oak casks with no age statement. And while some of it is no doubt quite young, there are rumours that it contains some barrels that are up to 35 years old!
Blurb aside, on to the tasting!
The nose is thick, rich and luscious. Full of rich, dark chocolate, ground coffee beans, christmas cake, robust sherry, chunky marmalade. Hints of scotch finger biscuits, oak and cream. Cinnamon? Pears? A floral note? Oh wow! Really complex!
The taste is both creamy and syrupy. Really thick and mouth-filling. This whisky has texture! I don't normally take a lot of notice about how the whisky feels (as in the sensation of how it feels against the inside of my mouth), but this feels really luscious. Tastes of orange, chocolate, lightly roasted coffee, cinnamon, caramel and oak. It has a nuttiness to it as well. Hard to pin down, and takes several sips to get all the flavours, and it's not just the complexity, but the feel of the whisky keeps distracting me (in a good way)!
The finish is long, and spicier than the nose or the taste. The sweet chocolate, marmalade and nuttiness are there, but the sweet cinnamon has put its foot down and made its presence felt, giving this a tingly warmness that keeps the finish going for ages.
This is a bit out there, and very different. It must have taken a lot of attempts to get this to the point it's at. This feels like a whisky that has been tweaked, prodded and primped to within an inch of it's life, like a real show pony. But what a show pony it is!
So, yet another whisky coming out of Glenmorangie at the moment has impressed me! It's amazing what can happen when a large distillery is prepared to put some time effort and resources into experimentation with nearly every part of the process they use to make whisky!