Tag Archives: Glenmorangie

An interview with Dr. Bill “Billy” Lumsden of Ardbeg and Glenmorangie

A short while back I had the good opportunity to interview one Mr./Dr. Bill Lumsden.  Billy, as his friends call him.  Actually, this interview was about a year and a half in the making.  When I had heard that Glenmorangie & Ardbeg went for OU Kosher certification for the US market, I had it in my head that I should interview Dr. Bill.

Even though this is a blog for ALL whisky lovers (be they people just getting into whisky or whisky veterans), it is called the “Jewish” Single Malt Whisky Society so I imagined that the kosher-keeping Jews who followed our blog would want to know more.

So I reached out to David Blackmore, Global Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg and Glenmorangie, and he vowed to set it up.  Sadly, and for many different reasons, the stars never aligned – until now!

Bill shared some good information with me including some details on the Glenmorangie Private Edition release, the next Ardbeg and what might very well be another few Ardbeg releases in the near future.

A big thanks goes out to David Blackmore for setting this up and another to Dr. Bill (Billy) for being such a great interviewee.  We had a lot of fun!

Enjoy! (a bit of patience, please.  You may have a wait a short bit for the Soundcloud player to load below)

So you’re aware, I missed my train to NYC to meet with David and Bill so we moved the interview from the offices of Moet Hennessey to wonderful restaurant downstairs, Colicchio & Sons (yes, Colicchio as in Tom Colicchio of Top Chef).  That being said, there’s a bit of background noise/music/chatter.

Lastly, the last word in the interview got cut off.  In case you couldn’t tell from the context, Bill’s last word was “Interesting”…

Glenmorangie Margaux Cask – the waiting was the hardest part!

Highland region – 46%ABV – 700ml – Limited bottling 1 of 3551 – $446 | £278 |€325 (I bought my bottle a good while back and did not pay these prices.  My bottle number, by the way, is # 3535)

Where do I begin, and to what do I compare the feelings I had upon opening this bottle so as NOT to make a comparison to my *first time* with a girl and the anticipation some teenage boys, such as I was, feel regarding the prospect?  Aw, crap.  I just made the comparison, now didn’t I?  At least there were no details, right?  Right.

In all seriousness, I’ve had this bottle sitting in my whisky cabinet for a good 2 years (or so) before I went ahead and opened it.  It didn’t stay there because I was planning on keeping it for whisky collecting purposes.  No, it just so happened that I wanted to wait until the right time (whatever that would be) to open and enjoy it.  Thanks to you, I discovered what that special time was and, even though I haven’t gotten there yet, I’m well on my way on what I believe is the right track to attaining that goal.

So, why did I open this bottle if I hadn’t reached my goal yet?  Well, that is all explained in this here post.

Let’s just say that opening it was a thrill.  And to be in the good company of friends who are fellow whisky geeks/bloggers (Jason, Sam, that’s you!) made it all the more special.

Anyone who frequents the blog or knows me personally understands that I’ve basically got a boner for all things Glenmo.  If you’ve not tried their range in a while, I REALLY suggest you give it another go.  Their current line up is very special – even down to their 10yr “Original.”

And shit, if the contents of that bottle didn’t smell like pure heaven…

I’ve used this video once before (for another Glenmorangie whisky) and few drams can be compared to what is being compared in this video but, enjoy!

On to the review…

On the nose A very un-Glenmo nose.

Wafts of over-ripe grapes.

Delicious prune like notes.

Scents of grass and wild flowers (the little white daisies that aren’t so sweet smelling – very earthy).

Italian herb rub.

Fine red wine for the holidays.

Subtle notes of apples and peach (wine soaked peaches at that!).

Big chunks of chocolate.

Paper lunch bags.

On the mouth Powerful – like licking a dank dirt floor cellar; musty and earthy.

I wouldn’t want this any other way.

Very tannic, big wine and tobacco.

Lots of dried fruits with a focus on raisins and prunes.

This is really massive and the mouth feel goes back and forth between creamy and peppery.

Finish Very drying finish, oaky and hints again of that herb-rub I got on the nose.

In sum Delectable.  Way too big for daily dramming (also, too expensive & limited for it as well).  Handle with care.

This is the elephant in the room. Not to be ignored.

If drinking with friends, the conversation needs to be deep and it should be centered around this beauty or you’re just not giving it its due respect.

WhiskyFest NYC – So much time, so little to do…scratch that, reverse it!!

‘Twas the night before WhiskyFest and all through the land, a lot of whisky was sipped on, especially Arran (yes, I know it doesn’t really rhyme).

Busy, busy, busy.  Here I was, the evening before WhiskyFest and I had a big whisky pouring event I was doing for the Kosher Wine Society.  Whiskies poured that night were: Glenmorangie Original, Usquaebach Reserve Premium, Usquaebach 15 Year Old, Usquaebach ‘Old-Rare’ and the new Arran 14yr.  The event was at Solo on Madison Ave – an amazing Glatt Kosher restaurant, BTW.

Put quickly & simply, I was honored to have been asked to speak at the event.  A big thanks to Aron Ritter of the Kosher Wine Society for asking me to speak.

Prior to this, I met up with Andy Hogan of Arran Distillery and we shared a few beers at St. Andrews.  Just as we ordered our little snickety-snacks, John Hansell of Malt Advocate, and shortly after that Richard “The Nose” Paterson of Whyte & Mackay, (with his freshly shaved mustache) walked in.

I met up with Andy for a few reasons:

A) He’s a heck of a guy and fun to drink with.

B) I asked him if he’d join us at our dinner with the Kosher Wine Society and he jumped at the chance.

C) Andy had some Arran 14yr for me to pour at the dinner and, for my own personal consumption, a bottle of the Arran 15yr Open Day, Distillery Only whisky!  Wham-bam-thank-you-Andy!

While talking with John Hansell, he eyed the two Arran beauties and remarked that he’s never had the Open Day bottling (not many people had — only 600 bottles ever produced).  Being the nice guy that I am, I took a running jump at a chance to share my Arran with someone such as Mr. Hansell.  He graciously jumped at the chance to taste the stuff 🙂

Andy did a fine job talking about both the 14yr and 15yr Arran whiskies.  Both are super fine drams (as pointed out by all of us at the table – tasting notes to come in a couple fo weeks).

After this private tasting, Andy and I headed off to Solo for the whisky pairing event.  While there, we met up with many, many good people including Noah Goldstein of Usquaebach and Aron Ritter, President of the Kosher Wine Society.  It was a pleasure to be a part of the event.  Again, thanks Aron!

So there we were, Andy Hogan & Joshua Hatton, bellies full of food & whisky — what to do next?  Well, head over to Ward III to meet Parker Beam and taste his new Evan Williams 2001 Single Barrel whiskey!  Sadly, we were too late and missed that event completely.  We did, however, get to meet up with Greenie D McGee (World traveler, prankster…Ladies’ man!).

So, what now?

Let’s fast forward about 20 hours into the future to the evening of WhiskyFest.

The folks at Malt Advocate were nice enough to comp a press pass for me to join the festivities (thank you again!).  Sadly, this detail did not make it to the press-pass list and with the place so packed, I had a bit of a fight to get the folks in charge of the passes to let me in.  Thankfully, Amy Westlake (John Hansell’s wife and basically the person in command of the event) was passing by and she vouched for me.  Thanks Amy!

Into WhiskyFest I went – Glencairn in hand and ready to sip on some VIP hour whisky goodness!  First stop — Arran.  I had to try some of the new Machrie Moor PEATED Arran.  A cask strength beauty which was lightly peated and complimented the Arran spirit so well.  Andy had a bottle in hand and was at the ready to pour.  Watch out!  Peated Arran, coming your way!

Stop number 2 – Compass Box to taste the new 10th Anniversary dram – The Flaming Heart.  People who say they do not like blends will miss out on the specialness that is Compass Box.  Robin Robinson, Compass Box Ambassador and all around nice guy, poured an ample sample for me.  I was happy.

Where to next? Angel’s Envy to finally meet Wes Henderson (who I recently interviewed here) and his dad, Lincoln Henderson, the artist who designed the new Angel’s Envy Bourbon (review of that whiskey here).

I’ve been in contact with Wes for sometime now and have heard from him bits and pieces of the many issues that present themselves when you go about releasing new whiskies.  It’s a tough process, no doubt.  So, as a way of saying “congrats” on the pending launch of Angel’s Envy, I presented Wes with his very own Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society (Honorary Whisky Heeb) T-Shirt.

After this, I hoped from table to table seeing what else there was to see/taste.

I made a point to stop at the Amrut table to meet Raj.  Raj, of Purple Valley Importers fame, was the person kind enough to send me samples of the Amrut line for review.  I had to say hello, say thank you and taste some of the limited Amrut Intermediate Sherry expression.  The Intermediate Sherry whisky was a big spicy dram though easily tamed with a dash of water.  I’ve got a sample on it’s way to me for a formal review.  Expect to see my tasting notes soon.

Other whiskies of note – Dry Fly 100% Wheat whiskey out of Washington state.  Duncan Taylor 12yr peated Bunnahabhain (one of my faves of the evening), Springbank CV, Longrow CV, Yamazaki 1984 (at $600/bottle, it was nice to have a chance to taste this nectar), Stranahan’s Colorado “Snowflake” triple wood whiskey and Glenrothes 1975 vintage.

Lots of whiskies were missed — with more than 300 whiskies on hand to taste, it’s to be expected.

I did get to try the new Black Grouse – a solid blend folks!  While at the Grouse table, I met up with Dan Friedman of The Jewish Daily Forward and we got a chance to talk about whisky.  And actually, Dan was nice enough to lay down some of our conversation here.

All of the seminars looked great to me but I was only able to attend one – Suntory’s seminar with their Master Distiller, Mike Miyamoto.  Mike did a great job taking us through the Yamazaki & Hibiki line as well as give a good history of the Suntory owned Japanese distilleries.  We learned quite a bit about the importance of oak on their whiskies; not just type of oak (American, European & Japanese) but type of cask used.  It was all very interesting.  Mike is a VERY serious guy and extremely passionate about his whiskies.  It was great to see him sip on the stuff and start spouting out tasting notes.  Eyes closed, mind working, taste buds tasting.

I got to the event, and was in the door, by 5:30 and before I knew it my iPhone was telling me that it was 9:15.  Time is fun when you’re having flies.

Earlier in the evening, when I was at the Angel’s Envy table, I missed an opportunity to meet/talk with Lincoln Henderson (creator of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and now, Angel’s Envy) so I rushed back to see if he was there.  Luckily for me, he was.  What a charming guy!  I had a nice quick conversation with him but, had I the chance, I would have loved to talk with him longer – with over 40yrs in the business, he’s got to have some AMAZING stories!

So, this brings us to the end of my experience.  A complete whirlwind tour of the event.  Almost overwhelming.  Actually, it was overwhelming.  I could envision this being a fantastic two day event (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

I’ve heard complaints recently of the cost of a ticket — $120 (regular admission) $160 (VIP admission).  The VIP hour alone is worth the cash.  First off, most of these whiskies are hard to find in one place and, if you did find them, you’d pay double or triple that (at least) to taste them all.  Plus, the food is spectacular.  Great seminars to attend, etc…

If it comes close to where you are, do not miss this next year.  And, if you do go – make sure you come prepared.  Like having a birthing plan for when a woman goes into labor, I’d suggest you come to one of these events with a clear cut agenda.  What do you need to discover, who do you need to talk to, what seminars are available, etc…  Map it all out and STICK TO THAT PLAN.  I would have done that but I left my plan at home.  Oy.

A cause for celebration.

Ok, before I get started, I know there are a few things I owe you:

  1. More blended whisky reviews (including some Douglas Laing Double Barrel, Compass Box and Eades Double Malt expressions)
  2. A follow up to my Skyped-in Balvenie tasting with the London Jewish Chaplaincy.
  3. Reviews on the Master of Malt 30, 40 & 50 year expressions
  4. Anything else?

So, this is what I owe you and I will get to that.  Promise.

Before I do, however, I thought I’d do a quick post which actually is a follow up to the first contest I ever did.  I gave you a chance to taste a sample of the Ardbeg Rollercoaster if you gave me a good reason to crack open my Glenmorangie Margaux Cask.

I am happy to announce that I have finally opened the Margaux Cask Glenmo!  And though I am still striving for the goal and main reason I chose to open this bottle, I have made some headway.  So, you might ask “why, if you haven’t reached you goal, did you open up that beauty?”  Well, I’ll tell you.

Reason number 1

As you may know, before I started this blog, I ran a whisky society by the same name.  I still do.

Recently we enjoyed our largest tasting event hosted by Mr. Sam Simmons (with proceeds going to my synagogue’s social justice fund).  You guessed it, Dr. Whisky.  We had just over 30 people at the event and it was a total blast!  Sam did a fantastic job!

So, are we celebrating this big tasting?  Yes.

Is it enough for “Reason number 1“?  Almost.  However, I needed more.

What better component to “Reason number 1” than to celebrate Sam’s promotion to The Balvenie’s Global Ambassador!?

Sam, congrats!  After attending your tasting event, and seeing how you wowed and taught my group about The Balvenie and Scotch whisky in general, it’s quite apparent that your promotion is a well deserved one.  Cheers brotha!

Reason number 2

Dag nambit, if I don’t LOVE the internets!!

Over a year ago I started chatting it up with Jason of guidscotchdrink.com (for those not familiar, formally WHISKYhost).  We would twitter quite a lot and I was, and continue to be an avid reader of Jason’s blog.  Heck, I’ve even done a couple of guest posts on his blog where I reviewed whisk(e)y infused chocolate bars: Talisker Scotch Bonbon BarsGeorge T Stagg Bourbon Bonbon Bars.

Recently, and for a variety of reasons (Sam’s Balvenie Tasting being one of them), Jason took many-many hours out of his life to fly out to Connecticut for a visit.

Even though I’ve hung out with Sam before, this statement goes for both Sam and Jason: How cool it was to finally meet someone you’ve been interwebbing with for so long!?

Jason, it was great having you as a guest and hanging out with you!  Sam, see above. 🙂

Reason number 3

Well, I still can not give this away but I will be sure to announce what this reason is when that time comes.

So, how’d the stuff taste??

Looks like I owe one more thing – tasting notes!

When we opened it, we drank to enjoy and celebrate !  Tasting notes to follow.  However, as a preview, I can tell you that it is some amazing fluid!

Sam, Jason, thank you!  Until the next time our path cross again (which I know will happen soon and repeatedly)…  I wish you both the very best!

L’chayim/Slainte/Cheers!!

Joshua