THE first whisky created from yeast growing wild on Glenmorangie’s own barley marks the 10th anniversary of the Highland Distillery’s pioneering Private Edition series. For a decade, Glenmorangie has invited whisky aficionados to explore its passion for innovation through this acclaimed series of rare and intriguing limited-edition single malts. Now, in the collection’s rich, fruity tenth release, Glenmorangie Allta (Scots Gaelic for ‘wild’and pronounced ‘al-ta’), the distillery reveals the importance of yeast to Scotch whisky’s myriad flavours.
Yeast has always been a key ingredient in Scotch whisky. But over the years, its impact on taste has been all-but forgotten and emphasis placed on other aspects of whisky-making instead. With a background in yeast physiology, however, Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, whisky creation & whisky stocks, Dr Bill Lumsden, has always remained keenly aware of yeast’s potential. Years ago, he recalled a little-known story the late, great whisky writer Michael Jackson had told him, about a unique “house” yeast Glenmorangie was said to have possessed. And he began to further explore yeast’s influence on flavour.
As Dr Bill walked the barley fields near the distillery, he was inspired to collect a few ears of Cadboll barley and take them to the laboratory for analysis. There, he discovered Saccharomyces diaemath– a species of wild yeast unidentified until that point – and which, crucially, could be used for creating whisky. Dr Bill was intrigued to discover this wild yeast’s effect on Glenmorangie’s spirit. He arranged for the yeast to be cultivated and, when the barley on which it had grown was ready for use in the distillery, he brought them together in the whisky-making process, to create an exceptionally fragrant spirit. He then transferred this spirit into superior ex-bourbon barrels, including many second-fill casks, to showcase the fruity character given by the yeast. The rich, creamy whisky which emerged years later, unveils a new seam in Glenmorangie’s character.
This landmark malt embodies Glenmorangie’s creativity. Since 2009, the series has allowed the whisky creation team to explore rare cask finishes, experiment with raw ingredients and give their imagination free rein. Says Dr Bill: “Glenmorangie Allta is a worthy whisky with which to mark the Private Edition’s 10th anniversary. Yeast’s influence on taste has been overlooked for years, but it’s an area ripe for exploration. With a nose of biscuit, baking bread and floral notes, and rich tastes of vanilla, orange syrup and sweet chilli, Glenmorangie Allta opens up compelling possibilities for the future of Scotch whisky.”
Available at select retailers nationwide, recommended retail price R999.