Thursday 14 May 2015

Glenmorangie Tùsail Private Tasting Dinner with Dr Bill Lumsden at The Cut Bar & Grill

As highlighted in our "weekly" update (#18), Glenmorangie released in April, in Australia, the sixth Private Edition collection, the Glenmorangie Tùsail. 

To commemorate the launch of Tùsail, a number of whisky bloggers, lifestyle writers and PR representatives gathered at The Cut Bar & Grill for a dinner tasting of the Tùsail (amongst other Glenmorangie expressions) hosted by well respected whisky figure, Dr Bill Lumsden - Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks at The Glenmorangie Company.

Tùsail has ventured away from the artisanal flair of the previous Private Edition collections which have predominantly focussed on the maturation or the finishing and the use of different types of cask (as we saw last year with Companta and its use of the red wine barriques). The name Tùsail or Tùsailis is the Scottish Gaelic word for originary, which means ‘causing the origin of’ and the name Glenmorangie Tùsail was chosen as it best reflects the inspiration behind the whisky, with its use of a rare barley that carries with it a distinctive taste profile which was almost lost to the world.

The curation of the Tùsail followed the inspiration that culminated in the Glenmorangie Signet, the dark, refined, coffee-brew inspired expression. The Signet focussed on the barley as opposed to the maturation with the use of the roasted 'chocolate' barley malt (as typically used in porter and stout) to produce an experience similar to that of waking up in the morning to the smell of a fresh roasted brewed coffee, as highlighted by Dr Bill on the night. 

Dr Bill Lumsden explains that with Tùsail, it makes use of a previously near-extinct "Maris Otter" barley, otherwise known as a winter barley which gives the whisky a depth of flavour and character that differs to other malt varietals, with notes of nuttiness, toffee, cinnamon and dates. The barley itself was first commercially harvested only 50 years ago and became a cornerstone of the craft-brewing industry in England as it was able to impart such depth of flavour. The use of the "Maris Otter" barley in Tùsail has meant that there is now a degree of preservation to this near-extinct barley.

As compared to other Glenmorangie expressions, Tùsail shares some similarities to that of the Glenmorangie Original with its soft, floral and creamy notes. From the tasting (full tasting notes below), there are elements of sweet vanilla, spring flowers on the nose and creamy, toffee, apple notes on the palate - some similarities to the Original, which was also served on the night.

The night kicked off with a varied expression of the Old Fashioned, otherwise known on the night as the Long Zest with its use of the Glenmorangie Original, bitters, ginger and flamed zest of orange. The Long Zest was a great, refreshing way to kick off the launch and a great take on the generally bourbon-driven Old Fashioned.


Known within the Sydney dining scene, The Cut Bar & Grill provides an intimate dining experience and is well known for its creative use of produce including its signature slow roast rib and flat iron steak. What made the night a lot more exciting was the pairing of whiskies with all the dishes served on the night, one of which was the flat iron steak. The whisky line-up included the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or‎, Glenmorangie Lasanta, Glenmorangie Signet and the star of the night, the Glenmorangie Tùsail. The full tasting notes for Tùsail and Signet are detailed below.

To calm the nerves of those anxious to taste Tùsail on the night, Dr Bill called for the Tùsail to be the first expression to be tasted that night. 

Glenmorangie Tùsail (46% ABV, NAS, Highlands, Scotland, $165AUD)
An innovative use of a different barley varietal, the "Marris Otter" winter barley gives way to a soft, refined and creamy expression.

Colour: Light gold

Nose: Spring flowers, peaches, honey with notes of winter melon and honey dew

Palate: The palate is soft, creamy and refreshing with notes of honey, toffee, peaches and apple -- quite similar to the floral and sweet notes of the Glenmorangie Original with the added layer of toffee and sweetness

Finish: The finish is dry and medium with lingering dried spices, cinnamon

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.

Having tasted the Tùsail, it was then off to the set of courses for the night including the well known Rangers Valley Flat Iron steak as served with parsnip vanilla puree, oak smoked bone marrow jus and paired with a dram of the Glenmorangie Lasanta. The Lasanta paired well with the steak and provided additional sweet notes from having been finished in Oloroso and PX casks. The Lasanta, though, did contrast with the two previous expressions, the Quinta Ruban and the Nectar d'Or. The Quinta Ruban being quite deep, rich, sweet and complex and the Nectar d'Or, being full of dried spices and sweetnesss.

The Glenmorangie Signet was paired with the last course of the night, the dessert course. The richness of the Signet complemented the warm chocolate tart with the added old fashioned scented ice cream. The espresso notes inherent in the Signet bode well as a pair to the warm dessert and also as a final expression for the night.

Glenmorangie Signet (46% ABV, NAS, Highlands, Scotland, $200AUD)
A deep, mysterious expression that takes its inspiration from a good fresh roasted brew in the morning. An expression that smells as good as it tastes.

Colour: Pale amber.

Nose: Notes of honey, vanilla, orange zest and a hint of espresso (that morning brew)

Palate: The palate is rich and begins with notes of salty liquorice that develops into various spices, most prominent is cloves

Finish: The finish is long, mouth-coating and fresh. The finish leaves you salivating for more.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.

The Signet was the last dram of the night and the dram that gracefully closed the commemoration of Tùsail. Reflecting back, it was truly a remarkable and memorable night with Dr Bill Lumsden. He is simply a knowledgeable, colourful and passionate whisky character. I recall Andrew Derbidge of SMWS attesting to his great respect for Dr Bill Lumsden (and also for Jim McEwan) at the Bruichladdich SMWS tasting late last year, and I can concur with Andrew. It was also great to hear some of the Dr Bill Lumsden's travel stories on the night with one fairly interesting story involving speed dating, whiskies and Las Vegas. But that's for another post....

Tùsail retails for $165AUD and can be purchased through specialist whisky shops (think Oak Barrel, World of Whisky etc...) or online at the Moét Hennessy Collection.

Hendy would like to thank EVH for the invitation to what was a remarkable and memorable night with the one and only, Dr Bill Lumsden of the Glenmorangie Company.

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