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Monday, 20 October 2008

A signal of things to come??...

Wow. Tans don't last long do they? barely a day and my finely cultivated Portuguese sun blush is already starting to fade with this dismal London drizzle. We're quite aware that here at that we start lots of postings discussing the weather, but we make no apologies. Clearly, it has a huge impact on our state of mind and the whiskies we love. Seriously, Portugal's weather was a complete refreshment for the soul and the last week spent in Porto, with many a fine vintage Tawny in ones hand has not only done wonders for the skin but also for the mind. Considering our collective knowledge was relatively limited in the production of wonderful port bottlings, it was good to take a little break from whisky and learn a few proper facts. But given a cellar, crammed with casks full of exceptional liquid, your mind tends to wander a little. Thoughts like, " I wonder where this empty cask will end up?" sprang to mind and you kick yourself for thinking, maybe a distillery will finish something cheeky in it... well, maybe they will??
This leads nicely onto the first foray back into whisky - banishing the memories Vila Nova De Gaia into the ether. Last night we were lucky enough to try the newly-launched Glenmorangie Signet for the first time.

Signet is apparently a project that Dr Bill Lumsden has been developing since as far back as 1984, from his days working in the brewing business. At the heart of the whisky lies its unique proposition- 'chocolate malt'- a curious dark, toasted grain slowly cooked at around 250 degrees Centigrade, which imparts a richness into the spirit. We're also told that it is based on a mixture of ex-oloroso casks and a touch of virgin oak, containing older and younger whiskies.

With its highly lavish packaging, the smoked glass bottle, ludicrously weighty stopper and 'flick book of clouds and bottle shots'- (yes, we did just type that) our hopes were high, albeit slightly concerned. To be honest, the last Glenmorangie tasting we wrote about was a mixed affair, the wonderful Astar leading the way to the winning post and the not-so-wonderful Lasanta and Quinta Ruban clearly bring up the rear. Will the Signet make us pine for those wonderfully heady casks we so reluctantly left behind in Porto? lets see....

Glenmorangie Signet - NAS - 46% - 70cl

Nose: Masses of over-ripe banana, fresh ginger, mint, orange blossom and hints of smoke. A classy start then, with all the usual Glenmorangie spice to match. Almost a 'whisky mac' feel to it and the toasty, spicy influence of the chocolate malt is very much evident.

Palate: Pepper, espresso coffee and leather all hit your tastebuds on the first sip, with a minty floral note developing afterwards. Again, the spices and citrus are also present.

Finish: Lingering ginger and dark chocolate notes, leading to a reasonably lengthy finish.

Overall: This is a highly drinkable whisky and Dr Lumsden's team should be commended for their constant devotion to the development of great wood and innovative experiments. Our only slight gripe is its lofty price tag (around £120) which makes us wonder quite how much was spent on just developing the packaging, let alone the whisky. This will no doubt go down very well in the newer markets (especially the Far East) but for us, it just seems a touch unnecessary. There's something to be said for real simplicity at its best, which may have been overlooked a tad here- but all in all, a fine example of Glenmorangie.