Last month, like every winter in the last decade, Glenmorangie distillery released their latest Private Edition (always one of the rare high points of winter time whisky releases). Yes, a decade has passed and we have ‘Allta’ (Wild in Gaelic) is the 10th Private Edition.
While most of the editions in the last decade were focused on the casks and how they influence the Glenmorangie whisky, Allta and Tusail are like the black sheep of the family. Tusail was all about barley and Allta is all about yeasts. Instead of using the standard yeast strain, Dr. Bill Lumsden went with a different yeast strain – a local strain from around Tain.
After some work and time, they found a wild and suitable yeast strain on barley from Cadboll Estate near Tain and they started distilling using this strain.
Glenmorangie Allta (Private Edition #10) (51.2%, £78.95/€84,50/$85.90)
Nose: Bubblegum, very wild and not very Glenmorangie like, malt, I would swear it’s a distilled beer, orange, nuts in the background and a bit of freshness. After a few minutes more nuts and menthol, pears, pine forest, very beer-y. With a few drops of water it’s fruitier and there’s fresh beer froth. A unique nose (especially for Glenmorangie).
Palate: Wild, still very beer-y and malt centric although less than on the nose. Gentle oak spice, menthol and pine needles, pink bubblegum, very similar to distilled beer ,With a few drops of water, even more beer and bitter oak spice (Is that why they went for 51.2% instead of 46%?)
Finish: Short medium length, menthol freshness, pines, malt and subtle oak bitterness.
Thoughts: Well, As much as we talk about those Private Editions being experimental but always getting to the conclusion that it’s a bit off the route of standard Glenmorangie, Allta is really Off key and wild Glenmorangie and at times I get strong resemblance to Golan Heights distillery products (that would be my guess in a blind tasting). Glenmorangie now distills using this yeast strain for a week every year and I’m very keen to see what else will they do with this wild spirit.
The Glenmorangie Private Edition releases are always interesting. Not sure if they are worth the money every time, but they stay interesting at least.