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Glenmorangie Dr Bill Lumsden x Azuma Makoto 23 Years Old




Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Dr Bill Lumsden x Azuma Makoto 23 Years Old

Tasting Notes:

A collaboration between Glenmorangie’s Director of Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden, and Japanese botanical artist, Azuma Makoto. The 23 Year Old single malt contains Glenmorangie’s first-ever Chardonnay cask-finished whisky, as well as some traditional ex-bourbon-matured whisky.
Amontillado Sherry
It’s really subtle – cantaloupe melon, soft honey, honeycomb, milk chocolate, lemon zest, some orange oil, creamy coconut and pineapple. Classic Glenmorangie. It reminds me alot of the Astar release from a decade or so ago, but much more grown up.
Soft, creamy, sweet, a little bitter with oak and gently drying on the arrival. More milk chocolate, cocoa powder, bitter orange and a slow build up of gentle, spicy oak that leads the way as it develops. The oak provides great weight to the texture, a slightly burnt brown sugar/creme brulee top to the end of it.
A lovely flourish of wood at the end, softly charred with a real first fill bourbon feel to it. Spicy, fruity wood. It’s full of gentle flavour that swells around your tongue with long pulses of American oak, honey, dark chocolate and some peanut, too
That is quite moreish. Not as intensely sweet as the Glenmorangie 18 Year Old, it has darker, woodier depth to it.
Credit: The Glenmorangie Company

Glenmorangie has unveiled a stunning collaboration between the Director of Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden, and Azuma Makoto, a Japanese botanical artist. The new release, 23 Year Old single malt scotch, evokes the pair’s love of nature, and a Japanese concept known as Shinra Bansho, meaning ‘all things in the universe’.

Makoto, inspired by the whisky’s “flowers, rain-soaked moss and earthy hints”, created stunning packaging for the new releases based on a “botanical masterpiece”.

The idea for the new 23 Year Old came to Dr. Bill and Azuma upon the latter’s trip to the distillery. The two were inspired by the glorious nature that surrounds the highland plant and began to brainstorm a collaboration that would capture the essence both of the whisky and of Scotland’s natural sphere.

Dr. Bill Lumsden – The Whisky

The Glenmorangie Dr. Bill Lumsden x Azuma Makoto 23 Year Old is a careful blend of single malts, handpicked by Dr. Bill. The first whisky is a long-aged single malt from bourbon casks. This was then vatted with the distillery’s first-ever Chardonnay cask-finished whisky. The resulting single malt, bottled at 46% ABV, reveals layers of florals, a whisky that is “rich, mellow and intriguingly deep.”

The official tasting notes are as follows:

Aroma: Rich, heady and fragrant. A burst of syrupy fruits such as peach, pineapple, damson and plum, followed by some more savoury notes like burning oak bark, roasting chestnuts, baking sourdough bread and some hints of damp forest floor. Water releases some herbal and floral notes, with a touch of scented incense, aromatic orchids and even some grapey, vinous notes.
Taste: Rich, sweet and fruity, with an almost waxy mouthfeel. There are flavours of lemon balsam, honeycomb, poached pears with a dusting of cocoa powder, followed by some gentle woody or balsamic notes.
Finish: Lingering and mellow, with hints of eucalyptus, lemon and toasty oak.”

Azuma Makoto – Shinra Bansho 

Azuma Makoto with his botanical sculpture, Shinra Bansho. Credit: The Glenmorangie Company

Azuma Makoto, after returning from his Glenmorangie trip, went back to his Tokyo studio to create a botanical sculpture fit for the stunning Glenmorangie whisky. Using flowers gathered from the Scottish Highlands including orchids, roses, and wildflowers, as well as plants from around the world, Makoto “skilfully wove them through tree bark, roots and moss.” The resulting sculpture is named Shinra Bansho, after the Japanese concept to which Makoto introduced Bill Lumsden. The beautiful sculpture is featured on the packaging of the 23 Year Old Glenmorangie.

Glenmorangie Dr. Bill Lumsden x Azuma Makoto 23 Year Old

Of the collaboration with his old friend, Lumsden said: ““Our collaboration with Azuma Makoto is a delicious celebration of nature’s wonder. Including our first whisky finished in Chardonnay casks from Burgundy, this 23-year-old single malt encapsulates nature in all its forms, through notes of lemon balsam, poached pears and cocoa powder layered on the oaky, earthy tones of the forest floor. Azuma-san’s stunning sculpture, featured on the whisky’s packaging, evokes the fragrant scents and elemental depths of this extraordinarily rare whisky – a gift from nature itself.”

Makoto added: “I was honoured to partner with Dr Bill for this special celebration of Shinra Bansho. My sculpture is a response to my view of Earth’s blessings – my sense of gratitude for nature – and for the flavour of the Highlands, expressed deliciously in Dr Bill’s whisky.”

The Glenmorangie Dr. Bill Lumsden x Azuma Makoto 23 Year Old will be available via selected retailers in the UK, USA, China, Japan, and Taiwan and online at Limited quantities will also be sold at Glenmorangie’s boutique in Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Aiport.

RRP £1,050/$1,330/€1,250

Phil Dwyer

Having worked in whisky retail for a decade, and running Whisky Wednesday on YouTube for nearly as long, Phil has always wanted to learn, talk and tell everyone as much about whisky as he can.

Whisky can be overly complicated at times. Phil wants to end that. Brands have pushed far too much jargon into the drinking atmosphere; it's difficult to breathe when whisky is mentioned at times.

Phil also manages The Whisky Shop Manchester stocking some of the best drams on the market.

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