Review: Glenmorangie Tùsail 95/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted December 10, 2015
Glenmorangie was amongst 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 are used by many distilleries. Once again Glenmorangie can claim some of the credit for helping to extend the range of the Scottish whisky taste profile.
Glenmorangie Tùsail is a member of the company’s Private Edition Range (the sixth in the series). The Private Edition Range features limited edition whiskies which are meant to bring a new or unique characteristic to the Glenmorangie line-up. In the case of Tùsail, its unique character is derived from the barley from which it is distilled, Maris Otter Barley. Maris Otter was derived in 1965 as a cross between two other barley varieties, Proctor and Pioneer. It is a two-row varietal designed as a low nitrogen barley with superior malting characteristics. Whisky distillers experimented with the Maris Otter variety briefly in the 60s and 70s as the grain was noted for its ability to impart strong robust flavour and character to the malt; however its usage as a malt barley for production whisky was widely discontinued due to its low yield characteristic.
Although this variety of barley fell out of favour for production whisky, its strong flavour characteristic caused it to remain in high demand for premium products especially in the home brewing sector and as a key ingredient for traditional ales in micro breweries. Because of this strong flavour characteristic, Glenmorangie’s Director of Whisky Creation and Distilling, Dr. Bill Lumsden, decided the time was right to produce a premium Single Malt using the premium Maris Otter grain. The resulting whisky, Tùsail was created exclusively from this barley grain which during production was floor malted (by hand), distilled upon Glenmorangie’s unique high, long-necked copper pot stills, and then matured in a small amount of specially selected casks.
Tùsail was bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 5/5
I find the Glenmorangie bottle presentation is step up in quality over the majority of the whisky industry. The elegant, corked bottle arrives in an attractive display box the front of which provides basic tasting notes to guide the consumer. The back of the box is helpful too as it provides the full story of Maris Otter barley to provide additional incentive to the consumer. The labeling is smart and professional. The bottle and the box look almost too good to disturb.
In the Glass 9.5/10
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 resulting crest is somewhat stubborn, although eventually a few slender droplets fall. The aroma from the glass is extremely enticing. The initial breezes bring scents of fresh-baked bread crust into the air pushed ahead of peppery oak spices. I soon begin to notice impressions of granola perhaps with a bit of Cap’n Crunch cereal along for the ride. there are hints of milk chocolate and a discernible nutty element which reminds me of fresh slivered filberts (hazelnuts).
As the glass sits, the wood and grain spices take hold growing in stature; however not to such a degree that they dominate the other smells and sensations. I notice Graham Wafers and ginger snap cookies drifting among the breezes with bits of honeycomb and soft leather. Glenmorangie whiskies almost always have a firm floral element mixed with citrus and orange peel. We have some of that here although I would say these elements are taking a backseat to the Maris Otter grain and oak spice.
The whisky aromas never well up to the point where I am blown away by their intensity, but I am more than just a little impressed by the over-all balance and the subtle nuances the spirit possesses.
In the Mouth 57/60
I sense great restraint on the part of gurus in Glenmorangie’s blending rooms. There is a robust underlying character within this dram which could easily have mushroomed out of control. However, rather than being hit over the head with the whisky’s obvious robust flavours and character, the dram remains remarkably approachable when I sip it neat with flavours which both intrigue and delight me.
The underlying sweetness of the malt (with flavours of Graham wafers, brown sugar and honey) seems to have merged with the spirit’s robust oak and grain spices bringing forward a wonderful creamy toffee which sits at the front of the flavour profile. Bits of sticky marmalade are hinted at with lovely hints of ginger, cinnamon and cloves providing an additional spicy accent. Those ginger snaps I noticed on the nose have found expression in the whisky’s flavour and all that is missing is the crunch as I playfully try to chew through a mouthful of this delicious whisky.
As I continue to sip I notice some fruity raisins and dates implying a sherry cask perhaps. Canned fruit (peaches and pears) make an appearance as well. Bits of chocolate and marzipan add to the depth of the malt with port dipped cigars rounding out the flavour profile which remains remarkably balanced despite the multitude of nuances.
In the Throat 14/15
At 46 % alcohol by volume, the whisky could easily have lost its way in the finish. However, this medium bodied Tùsail remains smooth all the way to the finish. It is here in the exit that the spirit reveals more of its Glenmorangie character with fruity impressions of citrus peel and canned pears tickling the throat. This is followed by a lingering honeyed spiciness that settles in then ebbs slowly away showing bits of minty menthol right at the very end.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
My sample bottle (once opened) quickly has become a favourite, and it probably will not last through the Christmas season. The Glenmorangie Tùsail is an unexpected delight!
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
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)