In 1998, the same year that Dr. Bill Lumsden was appointed director of whisky creation, Glenmorangie distilled the most recent batch of its Grand Vintage Malt line. In actuality, Dr. Bill's early attempts were among the first whiskies that were bottled for this release, and new charred oak was used for the first time in Glenmorangie's history. Some of those brand-new charred oak casks were set aside for finishing, while others were filled with fresh make spirit and aged for 23 years. This Grand Vintage release centers on that parcel and is blended with whiskies completed in oloroso sherry casks and whiskies aged in bourbon barrels.
The majority of scotch whiskey is matured in reclaimed casks, which enables distillers and blenders to age their stocks for extended periods of time without being concerned that they may become over-oaked. While other scotch whisky producers have used virgin oak in their experiments with remarkable success, Lumsden was much ahead of his time when he filled these barrels 23 years ago.
Dr. Bill has a history of pushing the envelope of innovation, so we may anticipate even more original thinking from him in the future, especially in light of Glenmorangie's experimental distillery, the Lighthouse, having opened its doors last September.