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Glenmorangie Tùsail pays homage to rare grain

A rare quality grain that was saved by devotees for the future, is the inspiration behind Glenmorangie’s latest limited edition. Glenmorangie Tùsail.  This sixth release in Glenmorangie’s award-winning Private Edition collection draws on the unique taste of Maris Otter barley, almost lost to the world but for the efforts of a few loyal proponents.

Every year since 2010, Glenmorangie has released a rare single malt crafted and designed to inspire and intrigue whisky connoisseurs and collectors. The latest release, Glenmorangie Tùsail, invites aficionados to explore a distinctive variety of barley’s influence on Glenmorangie single malt.

Maris Otter winter barley was first commercially harvested 50 years ago. Its depth of flavour meant that it soon became a cornerstone of England’s craft-brewing industry. But the demand for the barley variety began to fall as producers switched to varieties with greater efficiencies – and its characteristic taste was left in peril. Realising the danger, two British seed merchants formed a partnership to re-establish the grain’s purity and save Maris Otter from being wiped out.

Their efforts attracted the attention of Glenmorangie’s director of distilling and whisky creation. Dr Bill Lumsden ordered a batch of the winter barley and arranged for it to be traditionally floor-malted for use in Glenmorangie Tùsail (Scots Gaelic for original).

He explains: “When we heard the story of those determined to preserve such a flavoursome grain, their ethos – and the barley itself – seemed the perfect match for a Glenmorangie single malt. I knew its deep flavour profile would provide an intriguing contrast to Glenmorangie’s more delicate house style, creating a whisky to enchant connoisseurs.

“The result pays homage to the Maris Otter variety, with rich, rustic flavours of nut toffee, sweet barley malt, ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and dates, complementing the more familiar Glenmorangie notes of peaches, oranges and smoked pears.”

Glenmorangie Tùsail will be available from, at independent specialist retailers and department stores at £75.99.

Glenmorangie Tùsail marks the sixth annual release in the Private Edition range. The first five Glenmorangie Private Edition expressions were Sonnalta, Finealta, Artein, Ealanta and Companta.

About Glenmorangie:

Glenmorangie single malt Scotch whisky originates in the Scottish Highlands where, at the Glenmorangie Distillery founded in 1843. It is distilled in the tallest malt whisky stills in Scotland and matured in the finest oak casks.

About Maris Otter barley:

Maris Otter was originally bred in 1960s England, near Cambridge, at a site on Maris Lane, the street after which the barley was named.  Maris Otter’s flavour was initially sought after by the craft-brewing industry.  But the variety’s popularity began to wane in the 1970s as tastes in beer changed and farmers switched to barley with higher yields.  By the late 1980s, uncertified seed and cross-pollination had put Maris Otter at risk of extinction.  This greatly alarmed some in the brewing industry, who still depended on its unique flavour to produce their cask-conditioned ales.  Reacting to these concerns, two English seed merchants formed a partnership to rejuvenate the variety, and in 1992, began a programme to build the stocks back to an acceptable standard. 

26 January 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor