Master Distiller Dr Lumsden talks about the new X by Glenmorangie

Schenelle Dsouza
Best known for their smooth aged scotch whiskeys, Glenmorangie has released a new single malt Scotch whisky called X by Glenmorangie. Keeping up with the times and the latest trends in mixology, the new single malt is crafted especially for mixing, quite a controversial twist from how its traditionally consumed. Developed in consultation with top global bartenders, X by Glenmorangie’s sweeter, richer taste is perfect for tall, simple serves, which promise to refresh the way single malt whisky is enjoyed.
X by Glenmorangie
X by Glenmorangie
The whiskey’s rich flavour comes from the swirling aromas of pear and vanilla, setting the stage for rich orange sherbet and fudge. This versatile single malt offers a rich taste that not only complements, but also cuts through all kinds of mixers, for delicious drinks.
Dr Bill Lumsden. Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks, The Glenmorangie Company (2)
Dr Bill Lumsden. Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks, The Glenmorangie Company
“X by Glenmorangie came from our dream of creating even more flavour possibilities, with a single malt that’s made to mix. Consulting with top bartenders, we crafted this sweeter, richer single malt for all those enjoying mixing at home,” says Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Whisky Creation at Glenmorangie.
The beginning  
Regarded as an innovator by the malt whisky industry, Dr Lumsden has been associated with Glenmorangie for 25 years. Lumsden joined the company in 1995, and now oversees the creation of Glenmorangie’s exceptional spirit, which originates in the Highlands of Scotland.
Before beginning his venture with Glenmorangie, Dr Lumsden claims he didn’t have enough knowledge about whiskey. While he did experiment with different blends, nothing really struck. Until he came across a rare ten-year Glenmorangie in 1984. “The first time I tried a single malt scotch from Glenmorangie was a waking call for me. I loved the complexity and creamy taste, as it is so much easier to drink than I expected.”
The intense flavour palate of Glenmorangie led Dr Lumsden to become more enthused about single malts. He worked as a Research Scientist with DCL Distiller’s Company, now Diageo, until he came across an advertisement for the role of Distillery Manager at Glenmorangie. “I got the job as Distillery Manager but worked at that position for only four years after which I got the role of Master Distiller at Glenmorangie.” This was where Dr Lumsden felt his career had finally taken off allowing him to use his creativity and skills to ultimately become a brand ambassador for the company.
Aside from being the Master Distiller, Dr Lumsden is also on the board of directors for Glenmorangie. “While I continue to carry on the same job I started with, I’m also a director of the company. My journey has been going on for 28 years and it’s not over yet. There are still so many things I want to achieve.”
A democratic drink
The vision behind creating X was two-fold. Dr Lumsden wanted to create a drink that could be drunk more democratically than some of Glenmorangie’s older and rarer expressions. “I wanted people to feel relaxed about adding soda or making a cocktail with it,” says Dr Lumsden.
The second idea was to recreate the taste profile of the 15-year-old Glenmorangie. The 15-year-old Glenmorangie was a favourite of many. On several occasions, Dr Lumsden was asked to reproduce the popular single malt. “But I didn’t want to reproduce it at that age. So I decided to try and recreate a similar taste profile in a slightly younger whiskey.”
Earthy flavours
Although X by Glenmorangie is a recreation of the original 15 year single malt, the taste profile differs quite a bit. Dr Lumsden credits the distinct flavour to be more earthy and spicy.
X by Glenmorangie
X by Glenmorangie
Taking a quick whiff, Dr Lumsden adds, “On the nose it is immediately recognisable as a Glenmorangie because of the floral top notes. But there’s also an earthiness and spice to it from the new charred oak finishing.”
The first thing you taste, according to Dr Lumsden is “the soft, smooth creamy palate, which is a classic Glenmorangie. However, after a few seconds you can immediately feel a burst of spice, from the cinnamon and ginger. And there’s also the delicious dark chocolate and vanilla flavours.”
Made for mixing
Although the new single malt has been marketed as a whiskey made for mixing, Dr Lumsden claims it to be a marketing gimmick. “The new blend is not just for mixing. It can be had any way you like. But as I mentioned earlier that I wanted to make something democratic and I understood that a lot of consumers would use it for mixing. But it can be had any way you like it, neat, on the rock or even with water or soda.”
So how is X really different then?
X by Glenmorangie 02
X by Glenmorangie
Dr Lumsden claims that the X by Glenmorangie stands out because of its unique flavour palate recreated in a much younger whiskey. “I believe I’ve managed to create a full bodied taste profile in a slightly younger whiskey. And whiskeys are usually aged between 8-10 years generally. But if you taste this blend, it tastes like an older whiskey because of the spicy notes which also make it a great pick for mixology.”
The perfect cocktail…
Dr Lumsden is currently working on a cocktail that was developed by former bartender Liam Gillan, who works at Glenmorangie at the moment. Gillan proposed the idea of creating a cocktail that tastes similar to a black forest gateaux. “I think this cocktail is going to be really good. I’m still working on it at the moment, so my current favourite is a classic Old Fashioned made with X,” he adds.
Evolution of the whiskey culture
There is a growing interest in the whiskey culture. Dr Lumsden credits this to a curiosity to try new things.  With ample access to information and the ability to travel to new unexplored destinations, consumers are now beginning to experience new cultures.
“Consumers by their very nature are cosmopolitan these days. They are experiencing so many different cultures. Plus there is so much information available especially because of the internet, people are beginning to explore the different ways of drinking which makes them curious. They want to explore and experiment.”
Since he first stepped foot in the industry, Dr Lumsden noticed massive changes in the drinking culture. One of them is the rate of growth of the single malt industry. When he began, Dr Lumsden says that the percentage of global scotch whiskey consumption was a meagre 5 or 6 per cent, to about 16 per cent today. This is in effect to another change he noticed which was the switch from white spirits. “When I started, I noticed that consumers, particularly the younger crowd, were all drinking vodka. But now people understand different spirits like whiskey, rum, and cognac.”
X by Glenmorangie
X by Glenmorangie
The amount of flavour found is the different spirits inspired people to become more relaxed about mixology, especially whiskey. “There is a reigning trend of drinking whiskey in different ways. And that is one of the reasons I developed X by Glenmorangie to help carry on that trend.”
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