There is No Candy in the Scotch: The Glenmorangie Milsean Unveiling

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Last week I had the undeniable pleasure of attending the Glenmorangie Milsean Private Edition unveiling. “Ooooooooooh. Sounds exciting gurl!” Yes! It toally was! Glenmorangie events are my favourite events cause they’re always so memorable and I love, love, love their Whiskies.

As per usual, we’re gonna do this photo-essay style. Enjoy!

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When I arrived at Sons of Essex at for the event, I noticed a candy-striper theme happening. The intrigue!

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I entered the bar foyer and more candy! I also noticed the Milsean bottles themselves were candy-striped. (More Intrigue!)

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Even more candy! Also Cinnamon sticks and fresh Ginger root!

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Even more stripes! I was beginning to feel like I was on the set of a mid-century french children’s film. Obvi, I was pumped!

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Feeling rather like a kid in a candy shop myself, I sat down at the bar to get a drink and survey the scenery. I ordered an Old Fashioned “Well Made” with The Lasanta.

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As you might expect, it was damn tasty. Literally anything with Glenmorangie is damn tasty, no surprises here.

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Then I was told by one of our esteemed hosts, Laura Baddish, that it was time for me to go down to the tasting area. Dr. Bill  Lumsden (Master Distiller at Glenmorangie & Ardbeg) was going to give a speech about the creation of Milsean.

She wanted me to be in the first group! Yesssssssss!

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This is a super blurry/grainy photo of Dr. Bill. I love him, he has the best stories I’ve ever heard and is the biggest nerd alive. Each year, he and Glenmorangie create a limited release Private Edition Whisky. Each one is unique and oh man, is Milsean ever one of a kind.

Dr. Bill said that he made a matrix of all Glenmorangie’s Whiskys and their flavor profiles, then looked for any gaps or weak spots. He discovered that the “candy profile” area was severely lacking. He thought of his days as a youngster, his grandparents shoving sweets in his mouth to shut him up. Then he had an idea, “How can I get those flavors into Glenmorangie?”

At this point, you might be saying, “WHAT NOW? Is there candy in my Single Malt Scotch?” No y’all. There is no candy in the Scotch. The process used to create Milsean is totally fascinating and achieves a “candy profile” without using any Peppermints, Butterscotch, Lemon Sherbet, or Smarties.

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Peppermints & Cinnamon Sticks: not in the Scotch.

After a bit of R&D, Dr. Bill and his team went to Oporto, Portugal and met with a cooper at a Port winery. They decided to try a new method for capturing the sweetness of Port without actually adding wine to the Whisky.  Once each barrel of Port was emptied of its contents, the cooperage team immediately charred the inside of the barrel so the Port residue would crystalize. Those re-toasted barrels were then shipped back to Glenmorangie’s distillery in Scotland.

Dr. Bill filled these barrels with Glenmorangie Original and waited a nail-biting 2.5 years for the Port cask finishing to complete. I say nail-biting because Dr. Bill noticed that the Whisky was taking on sugary Port characteristics much faster than he expected. He and his team tasted from the barrels every six months, ended the finishing process at the 2.5 year mark, and vatted the spirit for another six months.

Cool right? So cool. So cool in fact, that the whole process was nearly halted by the Scotch Whiskey Association for being too… well, I’ll say “forward thinking”.

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The hilarious thing about this night was that I had a cold! I could barely smell anything! So, when I left Dr. Bill and went to a “Nosing Station”, I had to explain to the guy running the station that, “under normal circumstances I’d be able to guess each flavor, but tonight I have a cold.” He laughed and that is how I met Dan Crowell, Central U.S. Brand ambassador for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, and a huge spirits geek.

Dan and I chatted for a long time about Whisky, chemistry, what it’s like to work for Dr. Bill, various and sundry spirits, and other geeky things. At some point during the night, I heard someone say, “Well, Scotch IS a dodecahedron.” We laughed about that too. I realized that literally everyone I’ve met from Glenmorangie is super passionate about their work. Everyone is a nerd in some form and everyone has the fire.

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Feeling a bit of the fire myself, I went back to the bar for another pour of Milsean and some badly needed popcorn. Oh sweet, lifesaving popcorn, how I love thee.

Glenmorangie Milsean Private Edition Tasting Notes: (supplemented by those at the event who could smell better than I)

  • Nose: Sweet caramel, candied orange, lemon sherbet, sugar cane
  • Mouth: Classic Glenmorangie house styel but with candied notes like: peanut toffee, peppermint, lemon sherbet, candied plums. Once we added a few drops of water, Milsean took on an herbaceous quality with mint and angelica coming through. Awesome.
  • Body: Really viscous and legs for dayyyys
  • Finish: Long, wide finish with notes of french oak, ginger, cigars, cinnamon

Overall: I had a cold, so it was hard for me to get all the nosing, but I did notice how sweet it smelled. I was then pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that sweet on the palate and actually became rather herbaceous! Such a great ride. Excellent long, wide finish and y’all know how I love viscosity.

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There are 167 barrels worth of Glenmorangie Milsean. They use non-chill filtering and bottle at 46% so you can enjoy every amazing flavor. If I were you, I’d get it ASAP before it disappears from our candy coated dreams forever.

Thanks to Laura Baddish and the folks from Moët-Hennesy USA for having me!

*Note: It was quite dark in this bar and my lil iPhone 5S didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. Please forgive the less-awesome-than-usual photos.

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