For centuries, the Scots have used second-hand Bourbon and Sherry casks for aging their whiskey. Glenmorangie Distillery has now taken the idea in a new direction. It aged various lots of its single-malt Scotch in the usual barrels for 10 years, then "finished" it by putting the Scotch for an additional two years into Portuguese barrels (called "pipes") that had been used for aging Port.
The elegant Glenmorangie 12-year-old Port Wood Finish Scotch, which sells for about $40 a bottle, has only a delicate note of black currant and chocolate in its otherwise faintly minty, peat-like aroma. The reason the Port flavor is so subtle, says Anthony Burnet, sales director for Glenmorangie, is that Port pipes hold 138 gallons, so there is a smaller surface-to-volume ratio than in a Sherry cask, which holds about 50 gallons.
Burnet says the Scotch will never be more than a tiny part of the Glenmorangie production; only 2,000 cases were made. Now available at fine wine shops.