Each year, Glenmorangie releases a new expression as part of their Private Edition Range which typically involves an experiemental cask finish. The Ealanta was the fourth release of this series, and it was released in 2013. It quickly exploded in popularity when Jim Murray named it the annual World Whisky of the Year in the 2014 edition of the Whisky Bible. What sets the Ealanta apart is that it’s matured entirely in virgin oak casks whereas scotch is typically aged in ex-bourbon or sherry casks. It’s an interesting experiment in how the tannins and fresh char from the oak cask interact with the malted barley.
Nose: The virgin oak stands out immediately – similar to fresh oak chips. Delicate barley surfaces from beneath the grain along with cracked black pepper, orange marmalade, and a hint of smoke from the fresh barrel char. Malted barley doesn’t disguise the smoke/caramelization well compared to a bourbon due to the lack of additional inherent sweetness from the corn in bourbon mashbills.
Palate: Again, the oak influence is quite noticeable up front. Golden raisins, pepper, buttery grain, and honeydew melon create an interesting blend of sweet and spice.
Finish: Odd, but interesting mix of heavy oak, apricots, grape jelly. Much sweeter here than on the palate as some of that char fades away.
Rating: 88/100 – one of my favorite of the private editions, and a great chance to taste something unique in the virgin oak profile.
Value for the money: These retailed around $99 which was a pretty fair price in my mind. This is the typical Private Edition price each year. These are no longer available in stores and likely pushing $200-250 on the secondary which is too steep in my opinion. I’d be happy to pay up to $150 for a bottle of this.