Glenmorangie’s acclaimed Grand Vintage series has provided us with a special showcase of what Scotch whisky is capable of in regards to longevity and aging conditions, ranging from the 25-year single malt that was finished for a whopping 15 years in Bual Madeira casks to the 26-year marriage of liquid matured in either Oloroso sherry or Burgundy casks. For years, the Scottish distillery has been at the forefront of cask innovation, and its newest release marks a watershed moment 23 years in the making.
With over 175 years of history, the Scotch mainstay didn’t begin experimenting with new charred oak barrels — the very method required for aging American bourbon — for maturing its whisky until 1998, when Director of Distilling Dr. Bill Lumsden first came on board and helped pioneer the use of the casks. Since then, the toasted oak has been mostly utilized as a means of secondary maturation for the distillery but did provide one notable new-make batch with a vessel for its primary aging. Among Lumsden’s first expressions is Glenmorangie’s Grand Vintage 1998, a 23-year-old single malt aged in new charred oak barrels and then married with two different whiskies: one aged in first-fill bourbon barrels and another in Oloroso sherry casks.
The end result packs a dynamic profile that blends the vanilla, chocolate orange, and ginger notes from the charred oak spirit with the softer, fruitier whisky from the ex-bourbon barrels and the sweeter expression from the sherry casks. The Grand Vintage 1998 is the forthcoming release in the Bond House No. 1 Collection, named after the legendary warehouse. It was first commissioned in the 19th century until it was converted to a still house in 1990.
A Scotch whisky this special won’t come cheap. Glenmorangie’s Grand Vintage 1998 has a price tag of around $945 from select high-end retailers.