Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks for the drams – Glenmorangie Masterclass


Last night, 24th November 2011, several club members and myself attended the Glenmorangie Masterclass held at the Oak Barrel Sydney. It is really good to see more and more of these masterclasses popping up and even better when they are held in comfortable, professional environments. The Oak Barrel are no strangers to these kinds of  events from dealing another wine or spirit class any other week of the year, so your virtually always guaranteed a high level of satisfaction. Self humbling though the Oak Barrel profess they are still earning and that in my books is a good thing because it means there is  always room to adjust as needed.

The venue was pack, as was the previous event we attended being the Laphroaig Masterclass. It was noticeable that this crowd was much younger than what we have seen previously. What was blindly obvious was how boisterous and in fact I will happily say blatantly disrespectful a good precentage of the crowd was to our host and presenter for the evening. The noise and chatting from the crowd was incessant and there was more than one annoyed individual in the crowd frustrated by not being able to hear. One may argue that a stronger presenter should have rallied the crowd early though in my opinion many in the room really were not there to learn and would have been far better suited to a stand up free for all tasting in the pub next door. I personally was quite annoyed at what was happening and was pushed several time to near stand up and ask the crowd to calm down. I was not there to drink liberally, so when an event says Masterclass in the title it should be all to clear what your there for. Pity but it does happen from time to time. I will even say the room was a little over full which may have added to the problem though I am sure there was no more than at the previous event we attended.

The only other disappointment was having to wash out out 4 glasses half way through to make room for the next for drams. Truly a real pity as I was forced to knock back my whiskies I really just wanted to leave until the end to go through the family one more time. Bummer.

Whiskies on offer were as follows:

Glenmorangie Original
Glenmorangie Lasanta
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban
Glenmorangie Nector D'Or
Glenmorangie 18yo
Glenmorangie 25yo
Glenmorangie Astar
Glenmorangie Signet

Out off all the whiskies, 4 of which I was very familiar with, the ones that stood out were the 18yo and the 25yo and they were not necessarily good things (in my book). The 18yo had an extremely oily texture and a nose of a wet animal dosed in perfume. Though the18yo was nice enough it really was not in my opinion having the finesse of the 4 primary foundation expressions. The 25yo, valued at $430AU, was tainted with that all too rubbery nose and texture of car tyres, a typical warning sign of sulphur in the cask. The 25yo really was a disappointment all round. As a reference this car tyre taste is exactly the same effect you get in the sparkling and still wines and the main reason you will see a expensive wine marked down to bargain basement prices. I know I was not the only one smelling and tasting it.

Chocolate roasted barley exclusive to the Glenmorangie Signet
It is always good when we get to sample the malted roasted barley. This time it was particularly special as a small bag of chocolate roasted barley made its circulation which contained the malted roasted barley used specifically for the Glenmorangie Signet. To taste was a mouthful of sweet, burnt, dry, coffee stout. The term 'Chocolate' pertains to the level of colour achieved through roasting and not the actual flavour of the barley. Like all barley prior to malting it is first cream in colour. The longer the malted barley is roasted at the higher temperatures is what creates the colour and of course flavour. Any good beer enthusiast or home brewer in general will know this is exactly the same process for malted barley for a porter or stout style beer. The closest in flavour profile for those not familiar with this style of roasted barley is to try a roasted coffee bean for a similar effect. Another note is that because whisky is distilled from the fermented barley the colour is not transferred to the new make spirit.

Things I picked up on the evening I previous did not know were:

Glenmorangie draws it water from a source that has been filtered through a combination of Limestone and Sandstone which adds to the heavy mineral rich contents of the whisky.

The Glenmorangie Signet uses a chocolate roast barley which is quite unique to the Scotch Whisky world at this time.

The Glenmorangie Original, the base foundation of the Quita Ruban, Lasanta, and Nector D'Or has a peat smoke phenol content (ppn) of 2 parts per million. Making it very mild indeed.

What was left of the lineup by the nights end... nothing but a dram.
Overall it was a good event to attend even if the content was rather light on in regards to detail about the making and history of Glenmorangie. A little more of a beginners class in Glenmorangie rather than a seasoned veteran / fanboy extravaganza. Coming off the back of the Laphroiag Masterclass I was hopping for an emersion rather than a view form distilleries gate. Of course this is my own problem  to deal with and no reflection of the the event itself or what it promised to be. None the less I was satisfied and the ability to firstly try the complete kaleidoscope range in one sitting as well as delve into the untouchables was well worth it. If I was to give a dram on the event then it would be a 5 1/2 out of 7.

The Baron.