On Tuesday, January 30, I was lucky enough to attend a launch event for Glenmorangie’s newest addition to their Private Edition series, Spios. Spios is the ninth in the series and means “Spice” in Scots Gaelic. Appropriately named since it is fully matured in American Ex-Rye casks. Yes, you read that right, fully matured, not just finished like we have seen in a number of the previous private editions and possibly the first time a single malt scotch has ever been matured in a rye cask.
The event took place at The Battery in San Francisco in the room they call The Musto Bar. I was there for Glenmorangie but it was difficult to resist not trying the Bunnahabhain 25 or Highland Park 30 sitting up on the bar, but I kept my composure. It was an intimate setting with no more than 20 of us participating in the tasting, virtually hosted by Brendan McCarron and the man himself, Dr. Bill Lumsden. There were also a few other cities in North America participating in the live tasting including Philadelphia, Miami, Calgary and Vancouver. All of us eagerly waiting to try Spios.
But the waiting wasn’t so bad. We had about an hour to enjoy ourselves at the bar with some Glenmorangie Old Fashioned’s, take some pictures and get to know everyone. I spent a good part of that hour chatting with Cameron George (@eau_so_fancy on Instagram), a mixologist for Moët Hennessy. An extremely nice guy who seemed almost relieved to be talking with someone who didn’t work in the industry as many there did. He graciously admitted that he just moved down to San Francisco from Seattle a few days ago and was only in his second day working for Moët Hennessy, previously working at Canon, a famous bar in Seattle.
After a long discussion of whisky and sports (he is a Seahawks fan now living in San Francisco…good luck) we were told it was time for the tasting to begin. In front of me were three different whiskies, two of which I was already familiar with, The Glenmorangie Original, Nectar D’or and Spios. Dr. Bill Lumsden and Brendan McCarron popped up on the screen and it was time to dive in. They talked a bit about Glenmorangie and guided us through the tasting of the first two whiskies. Now it was time for Spios!
On first nosing, this whisky had a lot more character, especially when contrasted to the previous two. It really was, as the name suggests, a burst of spices with a hint of toffee sweetness. Here are my official tasting notes I took during the event.
Glenmorangie. Spios. Private Edition No. 9
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
US Price: $99
Cask: American Ex-Rye Casks
Robust and spicy, herbal, mineral, toffee and sweet melon.
Malty sweetness, buttery and then loads of spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and pepper.
Bold finish, long. Lingering heat and citrus.
Dr. Bill Lumsden said he gets Brazil Nut on the finish but I never had a Brazil Nut before so I couldn’t say. Thankfully, I didn’t need to take Brendan’s advice and look for the nearest Brazil Nut retailer as they had some on the table to try. Still not sure after that but I’ll take Dr. Lumsden’s word for it.
Overall, I did enjoy Spios. It is still a very light whisky but is a lot more robust when compared to The Original and Nectar D’or. I am guessing that’s why they decided to taste it along side these two since Lasanta and Quinta Ruban would have probably overpowered it. When you end up trying it for the first time taste it next to something light like Glenmorangie Original if you can. It certainly helped me get a lot more out of it.
After they walked us through a fantastic tasting they went around to each location on the stream and let people ask questions. One question asked was how old is Spios? Dr. Lumsden didn’t say exactly how old it was but he did say he was really bad at math and it helped that this was Private Edition number 9. So from that statement we can assume that it is around 9 years old.
Another person asked where they sourced the rye casks from. Again, Dr. Lumsden couldn’t really say but he explained that it wasn’t so much about where the casks were from but more about the type of casks he was looking for. He told us that the casks used for Spios held rye for 6 years and had a mash bill of at least 95% rye and then explained a bit about why he couldn’t tell us where they were from. He concluded his answer with, “How’s that for dodging a question?”
Lastly, they gave us a little sneak peak for what’s coming next year. Dr. Bill Lumsden said that without a doubt, next years release will be Private Edition Number 10! Yeah….thanks Bill.
After the tasting, lunch and dessert were served. The event was all about the whisky but it’s hard to go wrong with chicken in a bacon cream sauce, just sayin’. I also spent time talking to Virginia Miller (@theperfectspot on The Gram), a spirits writer for a number of publications. We had an amazing conversation talking about great whiskies and the industry. Go give her a follow, she really knows her stuff!
Eventually, after some good food and great whisky it came to an end. Attending an event like this was a first time for me and I had a blast meeting people who share this love of whisky and networking with those who work in the industry. Hopefully I get invited to more events like this in the future. A coupe things I learned: 1) People liked the name of our blog. 2) People were asking for a business card even though I’m just an influencer on Instagram and contribute to a whisky blog. So Hasse, about that…
Written by: Cody Diefenderfer