Glenmorangie unveils new whisky created using wild yeast

Glenmoragie has created a special whisky using yeast growing wild on the barley in the fields near the distillery to mark the tenth anniversary of its innovative Private Edition series.

Published 30th Jan 2019
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The tenth release from the series, which invites whisky fans to explore the brand's "passion for innovation" through a selection of limited-edition single malts, Allta (Scots Gaelic for ‘wild’ and pronounced ‘al-ta’) is designed to highlight the importance of yeast to Scotch whisky’s myriad flavours.

Previous releases have included the Ealanta, Milsean, Spios and Sonnalta.

A key ingredient in Scotch whisky, it is has often been overlooked in recent times, with maturation taking the lion share of the credit for its influence on the final flavour.

Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, whisky creation & whisky stocks, Dr Bill Lumsden, who has a background in yeast physiology, was keen to explore yeast’s potential.

Recalling to a little-known story the late, great whisky writer Michael Jackson had told him, about a unique ‘house’ yeast Glenmorangie was said to have possessed, the distillery said he began to further explore yeast’s influence on flavour.

A spokesperson for the Highland whisky brand said: "As Dr Bill walked the barley fields near the Distillery, he was inspired to collect a few ears of Cadboll barley and take them to the laboratory for analysis.

"There, he discovered Saccharomyces diaemath – a species of wild yeast unidentified until that point – and which, crucially, could be used for creating whisky. Dr Bill was intrigued to discover this wild yeast’s effect on Glenmorangie’s spirit.

"So, he arranged for the yeast to be cultivated and, when the barley on which it had grown was ready for use in the Distillery, he brought them together in the whisky-making process, to create an exceptionally fragrant spirit. He then transferred this spirit into superior ex-bourbon barrels, including many second-fill casks, to showcase the fruity character given by the yeast.

"The rich, creamy whisky which emerged years later, unveils a new seam in Glenmorangie’s character."

Dr Bill added: “Glenmorangie Allta is a worthy whisky with which to mark the Private Edition’s tenth anniversary. Yeast’s influence on taste has been overlooked for years, but it’s an area ripe for exploration.

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"With a nose of biscuit, baking bread and floral notes, and rich tastes of vanilla, orange syrup and sweet chilli, Glenmorangie Allta opens up compelling possibilities for the future of Scotch whisky.”

• Glenmorangie Allta is non-chill filtered and bottled at 51.2% ABV and will be available for an RRP of £79

Glenmorangie Allta Tasting Notes:

Glenmorangie Allta

Colour: Pale straw

Nose: Rounded, with biscuity, yeasty tones. Gentle floral notes of carnations and Parma violets, baking bread, very gentle vanilla, soft raisins and sweet mandarin orange.

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Taste: A crisp citrus bite to the mouthfeel. Butter candy, creamy vanilla, orange syrup with slightly yeasty background. Gentle mint, the tiniest hint of sweet chilli and delicate, dancing, floral notes.

Finish: Long and earthy with hints of bittersweet orange and peppermint.



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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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