Glenmorangie announce release of new whisky aged in ex-rye whiskey casks

A Highland distillery has announced the launch of its first single malt whisky fully matured in American ex-rye whiskey casks as part of its popular limited edition series. 

Published 30th Jan 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Glenmorangie announced that Spìos will be the ninth release in its Private Edition series, with the brand saying that the bottling for 2018 exhibits a "sophistication and subtle spice inspired by American rye whiskey".

The Spìos (Scots Gaelic for ‘spice’ and pronounced ‘spee-oss’) is described by Glenmorangie, as harking back to the "glory days of American rye" when production levels of rye whiskey were at an all-time high and considered it was considered to be "highly desirable" - a popularity it is only now beginning to regain with its recent resurgence.

Taking inspiration from this era when classic cocktails such as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and Sazerac all used rye as their base alcohol, Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, whisky creation & whisky stocks, Dr Bill Lumsden, travelled to the US in the late 1990s to seek out some of the few remaining rye distilleries, intrigued by the whiskey’s former glory.

Dr Lumsden explained that he found its characteristics of cinnamon and clove captivating and that he decided to experiment with aging in American ex-rye whiskey casks. He said: "Aware that a spirit of Glenmorangie’s renowned smoothness could invite rye’s subtleties to shine through in a way that many others would not, I was determined to one day bring a hint of American rye whiskey’s character to the Distillery’s renowned spirit."

To make Glenmorangie Spìos, Dr Lumsden sourced what he describes as the finest first-fill casks from American whiskey’s heartland of Kentucky, before arranging them to be shipped back to Tain.

Dr Lumsden added: “I have always loved American rye whiskey’s spicy character, and I believed our smooth house style would perfectly complement the nuances of ex-rye casks. The result is Glenmorangie Spìos – a full-bodied, savoury single malt which brings to mind American rye whiskey’s golden age.

"Its fresh, herbal nose hints at cherry, clove and scents of green grass. The rye’s spice bursts on to the palate, as toffee, clove and cinnamon mingle with buttery  vanilla, before a sweet and lingering finish – a single malt whisky which is unmistakeably Glenmorangie, yet exquisitely different.”

The ninth launch from the Private Edition, a series of limited releases which provides an annual opportunity for whisky connoisseurs and aficionados to experience a rare and intriguing single malt from the Ross-shire distillery outwith their standard range, the  Spìos

Bottled at 46% ABV, and non-chill filtered for extra body and texture, Glenmorangie Spìos will be available from and specialist whisky shops worldwide priced at £79 from 30th January.

Glenmorangie Spìos

Picture: Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie Spìos Tasting notes:

Nose: Fresh, herbal and perfumed, hints of cherry, clove and mint toffee, with some green grassy notes. A splash of water releases more perfumed, ‘ethereal’ notes, crisp, clean and fresh, with myriad herbal notes.

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Taste: Spicy texture, lots of toffee, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet, buttery vanilla.

Finish: Rich, sweet and lingering, with more fudge, toffee, brazil nut and tangy citrus.

• READ MORE: Glenmorangie to celebrate 175th anniversary with plans for expansion

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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