Glenmorangie fans are getting a treat this month with a new madeira cask–finished whisky. Bacalta, Gaelic for “baked,” is the eighth release in the so-called Private Edition, which started in 2010 as an experimental range for whisky master Dr. Bill Lumsden. Bacalta is a throwback to 2004, when Glenmorangie discontinued its madeira-finished offering, in part because the results varied too much for Lumsden’s liking.
Over the last few years, Lumsden designed a system to take as much luck out of the maturation process as possible. Glenmorangie commissioned a winery to make a special variation of madeira (a Portugese fortified wine) called Malmsey. Meanwhile they ordered custom toasted American oak barrels. They took the wine, filled the casks with it, and let them soak in the flavors for two years, “baking” in the sun.
Once two years had passed, the casks were emptied and shipped to Scotland, where they were filled with 10-year-old Glenmorangie whisky ready for finishing. That puts the unofficial age of this non-age statement whisky at 12, and it’s bottled at 92 proof, or 46 percent ABV.
Commissioning your own casks is good for quality assurance, but it’s also a supply equation for most distillers. While demand for cask-finished whisky is on the rise, wines like madeira and sherry are just not being consumed in volumes that produce enough used casks to meet the demand.
The results? Madeira finishing is an excellent addition to Glenmorangie’s traditional spirit. In this case it adds a spicy, candied finish to the traditionally light Glenmorangie whisky. It’s great for a dessert dram, or just the ideal example of single malts to help a bourbon lover learn to appreciate another style.