Thursday, December 26, 2013
Scotch in New Charred Oak: Glenmorangie Ealanta
Glenmorangie Ealanta, the fourth release from Glenmorangie's private edition series, is a fairly unique Scotch. While many Scotch whiskies are aged in old bourbon casks, this 2013 release is aged in new, charred American oak, just like a bourbon.
Glenmorangie Ealanta, Distilled 1993, Bottled 2012, 46% abv ($130)
The nose is pleasant and malty. The palate is very straight forward and malty. There is a slight oak note at midpalate along with citrus, honey, vanilla and sweet wine notes, and it has a sweet, chewy finish.
This is a good, solid malt, but it tastes fairly similar to any other good bourbon cask Scotch and is firmly within the general Glenmorangie profile. I was surprised that the new charred oak didn't have more influence. I had always assumed that the impact of new charred oak would be substantial. Even the color was quite light, much lighter than most bourbons. In American malt whiskeys, which are required to use new charred oak, there are often quite severe wood tannin notes that I find unpleasant. Of course, those malts tend to be very young, often less than a year old, and this one is around 19 years old, so the aging could have mellowed some of those notes if they were there to begin with.
This was an interesting experiment and one I'm glad they did, but the result isn't much different from many other malts on the market.
UPDATE: Even though the Ealanta label says "heavily charred," apparently it's actually "heavily toasted" according to this article quoting Glenmorangie's Bill Lumsden. Thanks to a commenter for pointing it out.