Review: Glenmorangie Milsean 88.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted November 12, 2015
Glenmorangie was among the first Scottish distillers (1960s) to use ex bourbon barrels to age their whisky rather than Spanish oak (sherry casks). This helped to change the taste profile of Scottish Whisky in a significant manner, and today ex bourbon barrels are use extensively alongside ex sherry casks in many Scottish distilleries. Then, in 1996, Glenmorangie introduced their wood finish range which began the distillery’s experimentation with a range of new wood finishes like port wood casks and wine barriques. Again, the industry followed suit, and now wine finishes have become common in the Single Malt industry. Once again Glenmorangie can claim credit for helping to extend the range of the Scottish whisky flavour profile.
Today Glenmorangie continues to extend the taste profile of their whisky with their annual Private Edition Range which features limited edition whiskies which are meant to bring a new or unique characteristic to the Glenmorangie line-up. I was introduced to the newest (the seventh) of these Private Edition bottlings, Glenmorangie Milsean in an old-fashioned St. Louis Streetcar at the top of Edmonton’s High Level Bridge during a whisky tasting hosted by Glenmorangie’s global brand ambassador, Karen Fullerton.
The tasting featured Glenmorangie’s Original Single Malt, Quinta Ruban, LaSanta, and Milsean sampled during the middle of our ride as the Streetcar was parked high on top of the old Railway line atop of the steel girder bridge with the rush hour traffic running below us (over the North Saskatchewan River). During the tasting I learned that all of Glenmorangie’s expressions are based upon the Glenmorangie Original which is produced from a distillation unpeated malted barley. The distillate is aged in two styles of barrels, first fill and second fill used bourbon barrels which are blended after aging for a minimum of 10 years. To create the various Glenmorangie expressions, the Glenmorangie whisky is further matured in selected styles of oak barrels to create the desired flavour profile (Sherry Casks for the Lasanta, Ruby Port Wine Casks for the Quinta Ruban, et cetera).
Glenmorangie Milsean (Scots Gaelic for ‘sweet things’ and pronounced ‘meel-shawn’) was created from Glenmorangie Single Malt Whisky which was extra-matured in former wine casks which had been re-toasted to caramelize the wine in the oak fiber. The caramelized wine flavours are drawn from the wood during maturation to create the unique flavour of the Milsean Whisky which was bottled st 46% alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 3.5/5
When Glenmorangie Milsean was created, the distillery discovered that the tasting notes for the whisky reminded them of the moorish flavours of an old-fashioned candy shop (sweets and licorice). This inspired the creative team to arrive at a display box and label which would bring that candy shop to life in the bottle presentation.
I wish they had not done that. While the box and label does remind me of sweets with the candy-cane colour scheme. I have to admit it reminds me more strongly of a bottle of cheap sparkling wine. I showed the bottle to my wife, and her reaction was similar to mine.
My feeling is that the Candy Store themed presentation of the Milsean Single Malt Whisky does not elevate the whisky, rather it creates a negative reaction in the consumer mind.
In the Glass 9.0/10
In the glass, the whisky displays a golden amber colour with perhaps just a hint of haze. When I tilt my glencairn and give it a slow twirl, the whisky leaves a light film, and the top or crest of the film holds stubbornly to its shape until finally a few small droplets begin to slowly fall. The aroma from the glass is interesting. The initial breezes bring hints of butterscotch and maple that are quickly drowned out by oaky spice and nutty barley grain. There is a bit of leather and burlap giving the dram an earthiness which is quite pleasing.
As the glass sits, the wood and grain spices build up bringing more of that leathery earthiness forward as well as undertones of licorice root and Angelica. It takes a while for me to notice it, but floral notes mixed with mild indications lemon and orange peel bring the whisky back to its roots as a Glenmorangie Whisky.
In the Mouth 54/60
Glenmorangie Milsean begins its traverse across the palate with a lovely initial sweetness which hint at flavours of maple and sugar cane. Dried apricots and raisins bring a light fruitiness to the dram and this is followed by nutty grain, oak spice, and tastes of leather and burlap. The 46 % alcohol by volume bottling strength gives the flavours extra intensity as well as intensifies the spicy heat of the whisky. Under all of this are some very gin-like flavours, earthy angelica and licorice root, lemon and orange citrus, spicy ginger and coriander, and hints of cooling menthol. There is no juniper, but the other descriptors would fit well in a list of botanicals for your favourite juniper spirit.
I look at my picture above and decide that the Allsorts with the licorice in the middle and the ginger snap cookies fit well with the flavour descriptors of the whisky. Those spicy chili peppers could represent the alcohol heat and oak spice, and the hard and soft candies perhaps are representative of the initial sweetness and then the ebbing menthol coolness. I decide that maybe the whisky can be imagined to be an old-fashioned candy store. However, I am much more drawn to the subtle earthy quality the whisky possesses.
In My Throat 13/15
Milsean is a medium bodied whisky with a robust spicy finish. Earthy flavours of licorice and burlap complement that spice and some maple tinged graham wafers linger in the background giving us a touch of sweetness. The final sensation is a light menthol coolness which echoes at the back of the throat helping to sooth the 46 % alcohol by volume heat. (A touch too much heat perhaps)
The Afterburn 9/10
The annual Glenmorangie Private Edition Range bottlings are a lot of fun. Last year’s bottling Glenmorangie Tùsail was my favourite Scotch whisky of 2015. Although Glenmorangie Milsean didn’t grab my quite as firmly as last year’s Tusail did, it nevertheless fulfilled the promise of bringing a new flavour characteristic to the Glenmorangie profile. However, rather than the sweet candy shop flavours hinted at by the name and bottle presentation, I was struck by the earthy quality the spirit possessed with those flavours of angelica and licorice root, nutty barley and hints of leather and burlap. There was perhaps just a touch too much alcohol heat to make sipping neat a comfortable experience; but with a dab of ice in my glass, I was very content. In fact, I hope this particular whisky finds its way into the main family of Glenmorangie, as to encounter its earthy quality only once would be a pity indeed.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
Milsean Old Fashioned
1 1/2 oz Glenmorangie Milsean Single Malt Whisky
1/2 tsp Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 dash Orange Curacao
1 dash bitters (Angostura Orange Bitters)
Large Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel
Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)