A Tale of Cake, Glenmorangie, 46%, OB, NAS, 2018
What’s going on Pandas! I have been looking forward to this moment for the whole of today. We have with us here today the most whimsical-sounding “A Tale of Cake” expression from Glenmorangie.
As you may already know, Glenmorangie is a Highland distillery famous for its tall “giraffe” stills and signature light-bodied, sweet orange peel and pineapple flavour profile. For an in-depth write-up on how Glenmorangie gets its flavour profile, check out here.
Today, I’ll get to uncork their highly anticipated limited edition Cake expression that received overwhelming fanfare and publicity late last year.
Region: Highlands, Scotland
Distributor: Original Bottling (OB)
Classification: Scotch Whisky
Style: Single Malt
Cask: Ex-Bourbon Maturation, Hungarian Tokaji Cask Finish
Behind the Label
Glenmorangie clearly put in a lot of effort into publicizing this particular release- from holding interviews with media and teaming up with internationally renowned pastry chef, Dominique Ansel, to create desserts for pairing with the Cake expression.
Ansel was tasked to figure out how to incorporate the whisky into a cake without overpowering it. He ultimately came up with what he called a “CakeTail” - a layered pineapple sponge cake sandwich, with a filling of whisky-infused passionfruit, caramelized pineapple, star anise deglazed with whisky, and brown sugar ganache.
(Image Source: Glenmorangie)
The inspiration for A Tale of Cake purportedly came while Glenmorangie’s director, Dr Bill Lumsden, was eating a pineapple upside down cake baked by his daughter for his birthday.
I can hardly wait to try this. With a name like that, who wouldn’t be curious how it tastes?
Oh, but before I get ahead of myself, the Cake expression is slightly above 10 years old. The whisky had spent about 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels (the signature Glenmorangie cask style), before being transferred into Hungarian Tokaji wine casks for finishing. Tokaji (pronounced to-kah-yai) sounds Japanese but is really a Hungarian invention. Tokaji wines are immensely sweet white wines from the Tokaj wine region in Hungary. The sweet “nectar” from the grapes of Tokaj is mentioned in the national anthem of Hungary- so do not mess around- these are national treasures of Hungary.
Ex-Tokaji maturation is quite rare in whiskyland. Finishing in an ex-Tokaji cask is supposed to impart very sweet notes to the whisky, with a note of light fresh fruits such as citrus and mango.
The Hungarian oak is also a factor – it contains higher tannin content which imparts some notes of nuttiness and spiciness to the whisky.
The Hungarian grapes used to make Tokaji wine are subject to “noble rot”. This gives the winemaker grapes that have a much higher sugar level than usual. (Image Source: Taste Hungary)
In the glass, rich copper.
On the nose, brilliant aroma. A familiar classic Glenmorangie character, yet the bouquet is so much more fragrant and heavier than the typical product from the distillery. This opens with bright and sweet notes of tangerines, honey, crème brulee and vanilla, before leading into thicker and richer notes of white chocolate, caramel, apricots and thick slices of 7D dried mango. There is also much bolder spiciness than the usual Glenmorangie. The spice subsides after 30 seconds or so, and the aroma turns towards a slightly more malty, yeasty and earthy character that is reminiscent of bread crust on a buttery glazed bun. There is so much vanilla sweetness and fruitiness layered over by darker notes with a surprising amount of depth. A sweet, rich and complex bouquet uncommon to casks that are simply bourbon-matured.
On the palate, this is one of the most heavy-bodied Glenmorangies you would have tried. Entry is smooth and rich, with so much sweet fruity notes of honey, vanilla, apricots, mango and buttery pound cake. The texture is viscous and satisfying with the liquid coating one’s tongue. The flavours develop and open to slightly darker notes of toffee and caramelised white chocolate studded with candied orange. Trace amounts of roasted nuts and almonds. A tinge of grapeskin dryness with a moderate amount of fragrant oak and tannins. As the whisky goes down your throat, a substantial amount of mint and spice develops on the back palate- a dusting of star anise flakes and ground cinnamon.
The finish is moderately long with a lingering sweetness of honey, orange peel, star anise flakes and a faint aroma of pineapple.
(Image Source: Sugar Salt Magic)
Simply satisfying! The classic Glenmorangie is usually light-bodied with sweet orange peels and pineapples. The Cake expression retains an element of the classic taste profile, but is so much heavier and bolder in its flavour – pouring a layer of rich white chocolate, oak and a deliberate spiciness that rivals many sherry cask whiskies.
I certainly did not expect a strong-flavoured and rich whisky from Glenmorangie. And while this expression is about 10 years old, there is unusual complexity in this expression that is generally found in much older Glenmorangies. A very welcome surprise!
The hype surrounding this expression does not abate as I sample it. This is highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves sweeter whiskies, or anyone who is familiar with standard entry-level Glenmorangies. One would immediately notice the unusual richness and complexity of the Cake expression compared to the others.
With its rich and sweet profile and notes of honey and pound cake, Dr Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie Distillery claims that this expression would taste incredible when paired with actual cake. I disagree- please eat this with a box of salted caramel macarons instead. The heavy bodied whisky holds up very well to the richness and sweetness of the macarons. Together, they make a fantastic dessert.
You see those little ruffles around the edge of the shell? Those are a mark of a well-baked macaron. I am very proud of my creation.