Sending 960 bottles of fine whisky to a thirsty nation is akin to sending a thirty-handicapper out at Sawgrass with a single sleeve of balls. Unfortunately, that's the plan for Glenmorangie Sauternes Wood Finish, which arrives in America this fall. Single-malt fanciers are already washing out their glasses.
Just down the road from Dornoch, Glenmorangie (rhymes with "orange-y") is well known for its flirtations with finishes. Earlier releases have been aged in casks that had once held cognac, madeira and red wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. Never before, however, has an unfortified white wine been used to age a whisky. Sauternes is a celebrated dessert wine, full of sugary grapes, and Glenmorangie is a sweetish malt, spanning its life in Ozark Mountain white-oak casks that have been flavored up for four years with bourbon. The Sauternes Finish spent seventeen and a half years in bourbon casks before being transferred to thirteen French sauternes barrels for its final thirty months. The result is a golden-syrup color, a nose of pears and a taste of buttered toast and vanilla ice cream—plenty smooth and easy on the tongue.
Park Avenue Liquor (212-685-2442) in New York City will put you on a waiting list for the Sauternes Finish, which will be priced around $300 per bottle. You can ask your favorite specialty store to extend the same courtesy, but do it soon: You're on the seventeenth tee with your last Titleist.