Glenmorangie expands its ‘Tale Of’ series
The Glenmorangie Company has released a new whisky partly matured in mizunara oak casks and inspired by Japan’s capital city.
The A Tale of Tokyo whisky was conceptualised by Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden, who has travelled extensively through Japan and long held a fascination with the country.
Lumsden said: “I’m lucky to have travelled widely over the years sharing Glenmorangie around the world whilst also gathering new inspiration for whisky creations, and Tokyo has always been one of my favourite places.
“I’m fascinated by the contradictions between its bustling streets and tranquil gardens, ancient and modern buildings, its many sensory experiences and its culture. My time there over the years made me wonder whether I could capture my experience of Tokyo, and these beautiful intricacies, in whisky form.”
To create a ‘perfect’ liquid that would fit the juxtapositions and contrasts of Japan that Lumsden found so intriguing, he used rare Japanese mizunara oak casks, which have a reputation for being difficult to acquire, as well as challenging to work with.
Speaking to The Spirits Business on his use of mizunara, Lumsden explained: ”I’ve always wanted to get my hands on Japanese mizunara oak, which had real cult status amongst whisky aficionados for a variety of reasons – and it took me seven or eight years before I finally managed to get some
“It’s very challenging. Mizunara oak trees are not ideal for making barrels out of – it’s very, very scarce and actually quite porous. You get a lot of leakage and a lot of loss from these bottles.
“And the taste profile compared to classic American white oak, for example, which are the casks we normally use for Glenmorangie, gives lots of soft, sweet, creamy flavours like vanilla, coconut and crème brûlée, whereas mizunara oak is very resinous and very sharp and really quite bizarre in terms of the taste profile.”
The resulting expression is said to be ‘characterised by enchanting opposites’ where pepper meets bitter cherries and coconut, as orange zest fuses with incense and sweet oak.
On the finish, drinkers will be able to make out classic Glenmorangie flavours of mandarin, almond and marzipan.
To commemorate the release, Glenmorangie called upon Japanese artist Akira Yamaguchi to design artwork which will adorn each bottle’s packaging.
The artist said the ”idea of my residing home conjures up so many different thoughts and feelings, and my work reflects Tokyo’s contrasts in many ways” and that ”incorporating hints about Glenmorangie and its whisky really appealed to my sense of playfulness”.
The packaging will showcase the artist’s perspective of the city, including landmarks and characteristics from both Tokyo and the Highland distillery, as well as traditional Japanese pastimes with nods to the whisky’s flavours.
Of the collaboration, Lumsden told The Spirits Business: “I always had a view that Tokyo was such a huge city with so many different wards and different districts, that almost every corner, you turn around, you see something different, something unexpected. And we felt that Yamaguchi san was ideally placed to try and capture that.
“For me to be able to work with an artist like Yamaguchi san, he really has taken my sort of slightly muddled mind and thoughts and feelings about Tokyo. I’m trying to translate it into a piece of art, which we think he has done beautifully.”
Bottled at 46% ABV, Glenmorangie A Tale of Tokyo will be available exclusively at Selfridges from 1-15 October, before retailing online and at whisky specialists for RRP £76 (US$92.64).
Glenmorangie’s ‘Tale of’ series began in 2020 with A Tale of Cake – originally intended as a one-off.
Lumsden, however, told The Spirits Business that “people love the concepts and have such a lot of fun with it, so we’ve made it an ongoing series’’ and that there are “at least two or three more ‘Tale of’ products in the pipeline”.
In June, The Glenmorangie Company welcomed Caspar MacRae as its new CEO.