Well this is a treat! We first tried this whisky on a Water of Life Society (WOLS) trip in 2014 thanks to a very generous member. Whiskyphiles did a post on it back then, and we recently tried it again while having dinner with the current WOLS president. It does pay to a part of WOLS!
St. Magdalene Distillery was founded in 1798 and closed in 1983 along with many other distilleries. It was located in Linlithgow which is a town about 20 miles west of Edinburgh. Due to its location, it is also known as Linlithgow Distillery. The distillery site has been converted into flats which seems to be a common thing to do with old distillery buildings. Linlithgow is most well known for Linlithgow palace which sits on the banks of the small Linlithgow loch. We’ve never been inside the palace, but it looks majestic from the outside and you can fly fish for trout in the loch if you purchase a fishing ticket from the Forth Area Federation of Anglers. It’s good fishing!
We tried this particular expression at the University of Edinburgh Water of Life Society Glenmorangie & Dessert Wine Tasting along with the Original, Lasanta, and Quinta Ruban. These four expressions represent the core range from Glenmorangie and provide an excellent experiment in cask influence. Nectar D’Or basically means golden nectar. While the name is not exactly French, it does have a certain French-ness to it which is to emphasize the fact that this whisky has been finished in ex-sauternes wine casks. Sauternes wine is a white sweet wine hailing from the Sauternais region of Bordeaux. It has a fascinating production which relies on the growth of a fungus called Botrytis cinerea to concentrate the sugars in the grapes. Due to the dependence on the growth of this fungus, Sauternes wine is difficult to make and yields varies greatly depending on the conditions each season. Thus due to the laws of supply and demand, this is not a cheap wine and ex-sauternes wine casks are not in abundance, so it’s always exciting to see whisky matured in Sauternes wine casks.
Unlike the Lasanta and Quinta Ruban, the Glenmorangie does not state the length of finishing for the Nectar D’Or.
Age: 12 Years Old
Cask: Ex-bourbon casks and then finished in ex-sauternes wine casks
Price: £54.13 at the Master of Malt
We tried this particular expression at the University of Edinburgh Water of Life Society Glenmorangie & Dessert Wine Tasting. The Quinta Ruban is one of the general release official bottlings from Glenmorangie. According to their website, this whisky spent “10 years maturing in American white oak casks, before being transferred into specially selected ruby port pipes from the Quintas or wine estates of Portugal”. They also state that no chill filtration was performed on the whisky. So ten years in ex-bourbon and two years in ex-port which is a similar maturation breakdown to the Lasanta (except that the Lasanta was in ex-sherry). In fact, you can think of the Quinta Ruban and Lasanta as the Original but with an extra 2 years maturation in a different cask. I mean to a certain extant. So it’s actually quite a neat experiment and really highlights the effect that finishing has on a whisky. As we did at the WOLS tasting, it would be a good exercise to go through the Glenmorangie core range to understand the kind of flavours you get from each cask type. I mean if you are that geeky about whisky..
Age: 12 Years Old
Cask: (From their website) 10 years maturing in American white oak casks, before being transferred into specially selected ruby port pipes from the Quintas or wine estates of Portugal.
Price: £47.48 from the Master of Malt
Continuing on our “tasting tour” of Glenmorangie from the University of Edinburgh Water of Life Society Glenmorangie & Dessert Wine Tasting, we have the Lasanta. The Lasanta is the ex-sherry cask finished official expression from Glenmorangie. According to their website, this expression spent “ten years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being extra-matured for a further two years in Oloroso and PX Sherry casks from Jerez in Spain”. They also state that this particular expression is not chill filtered which makes me thing the Original is. For a little more info about Glenmorangie you can see our post on the Original. If you happen to have a bottle of this and see that the ABV is in fact 46% instead of 43%, then you have the older version which was changed to 43% in 2014. Apparently Lasanta means “warmth and passion” in Gaelic in case you were wondering about the name.
The Lasanta makes up one of four whiskies in Glenmorangie’s core range. The others include the Original, the Quinta Ruban, and the Nectar D’or. All of these represent a specific type of cask influence (ex-bourbon, ex-port, and ex-sauternes respectively) which makes this core range quite unique in its cask variety. The emphasis on wood influence is likely due to the very light spirit that is the result of their extremely tall stills!
Age: 12 Years Old
Cask: (From their website) Ten years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being extra-matured for a further two years in Oloroso and PX Sherry casks from Jerez in Spain.
Price: £46.63 from the Master of Malt
The flagship whisky for Glenmorangie, the “Original” is one of the most available of single malt whiskies. If you haven’t seen this bottle yet, you are either a hermit or you just don’t remember. Glenmorangie distillery was founded in 1843 in the northern highlands region and it is currently owned by luxury company LVMH along with Ardbeg. Both of these distilleries are run by the famous Dr. Bill Lumsden who is responsible for some fascinating experiments in whisky.
With super tall stills, Glenmorangie spirit tends to be quite light which may be why it is one of the few single malts that has generally available official bottlings for ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, ex-port, and ex-sauternes cask matured whiskies. We have the doctor to thank for this selection. As for the Original, the Glenmorangie site states that the whisky has been matured in “slow-grown and air-dried ‘designer casks’ from Missouri”. Not exactly sure what designer casks means in this instance but it probably means that they have asked for the casks to be treated in a specific manner such as the air drying and perhaps toasting too.
What is interesting about the packaging is that the age of the whisky is not very prominant, which makes me suspect that they may be planning to release it as a NAS whisky at some point in the future. Or at least they are preparing for it in case they run out of aged stock. Well for now it’s 10 years old so let’s see how it tastes!
Age: 10 Years Old
Cask: First and second fill American white oak ex-bourbon casks.
Price: £29.95 at the Master of Malt
Dewar’s Signature is a “premium” scotch blend created to compete with the likes of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. It was developed by Master Blender Tom Aitken and being a Dewar’s blend it likely has a fair amount of Aberfeldy single malt in it. Other than that there’s not much information on it. We just have to take their word that this is indeed premium. So in that respect it is a lot like the Blue Label. Jim Murray apparently gave this expression 95 points in his Whisky Bible but then again he also said that Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was the best whisky/ey in the world last year. So who knows right? Well thanks to the good folks at Whisky Auctioneer, we got to try a sample of this.
Type: Blended Whisky
Price: £248.43 from the Master of Malt
While the site of Deanston distillery was established in 1785, the actual distillery was built in 1966. Since distilling equipment seems to be replaced about every 50 years anyway, the distillery has an old feel about it with its old brick buildings. The original owners were Deanston Distilling Co. but the distillery was sold to Invergordons Distillers in 1972. Then in 1982 the distillery went silent due to the great whisky loch (think whisky depression) and was not reopened unitl 1990, when Burn Stewart & Co purchased the distillery (source). So its had a short and tumultuous life as a distillery but it seems to be coming into its own now with more bottles popping up at shops. They have made the decision to not use chill-filtration or colour additives for any of their whiskies which is quite refreshing. The distillery is located not far from Stirling Castle which makes it quite accessible to tourists and denizens of Edinburgh/Glasgow alike. We visited Deanston distillery in the summer of 2016 and have chronicled our experience below.