Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Bacalta

Glenmorangie is one of the most popular distilleries in Scotland. If fact for a long while, they were the best selling single malt in Scotland (they were overtaken by Glenfiddich a few years ago… I’m not sure who’s on top at the moment). Glenmorangie is known for having the tallest pot stills in all of Scotland, a fact that the distillery loves to use in their marketing.

Every year Glenmorangie releases a special edition whisky as part of their “Private Edition” label. This year’s release, Bacalta, is the eighth in the series. Bacalta (which is Gaelic for “baked”) is a single malt whisky that was initially aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in ex-Madeira casks. Madeira is a type of fortified wine made on the Madeira Islands in Portugal. Madeira casks lend a sweet and fruity element to a whisky. I haven’t had many whiskies finished in Madeira casks, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I have had.

By the way, if  you’ve never had Madeira wine itself, I recommend giving it a shot. It offers some nice insight into what you can expect from a Madeira cask aged whisky and is quite a lovely drink in its own right.

Type: Single Malt Scotch
Region: Highlands
ABV: 46%
Non chill-filtered

Nose: Tropical fruits dominate, but there are other interesting elements as well. Clay. Chai tea. Key lime. Vanilla. Cinnamon sugar. Chocolate pie. Tart fruit candy (Sweet Tarts). Sunny Delight. Baked apples. Toasted coconut.

Palate: The arrival is sweet with tropical fruits—papaya, banana, mango, passion fruit, coconut, etc. Orange is really quite prominent—orange marmalade, orange smoothie, orange chocolate. Fruit cobbler. Honey. Sour candy. Gummy bears. Oak. There is some bitterness on the backend, but it’s a somewhat pleasant type of bitterness—reminiscent of dark chocolate.

Finish: More tropical fruits. Fruit jelly. Starts sweet, but turns dry fairly quickly. More of the same bitterness from the palate. Orange pith. Dark chocolate. Christmas spices. Baked cinnamon apples.

Overall: This is a fairly unique malt. The Madeira cask influence is evident throughout, especially on the palate. This is a sweet whisky, but not too sweet. There is some bitterness in this one, which can often ruin an otherwise good whisky, but in this case it kind of works. And as I mentioned, it’s not the type of unpleasant bitterness you sometimes find in an immature whisky. If I had to sum up this whisky in a short phrase, I’d probably call it “baked sunshine.”

With all the tropical fruit flavors, I imagine this would be a lovely dram to enjoy while sitting on the beach. On the other hand, the orange and spice notes would also make this work well as a Christmas time whisky. Regardless, I’ve been enjoying this one quite a bit no matter the weather or circumstance. Recommended.

Buy Again? Yes.

Score: 87/100

Questions about my scoring system? Refer to Review Method & Scoring Scale page. 

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