Released earlier in the year, Sponge’s ‘unblended highland single malt’ has been matured in a refill hogshead for 35 year before being bottled at 46.1% ABV. 232 bottles were produced from this unnamed, but oh so heavily hinted at distillery.
Nose: The type of polished elegance that pleads for and rewards an ample rest. Vintage orange liqueurs, peels and oils are joined by beeswax polished furniture and fine leather seat coverings. Pear juice and asides of fresh pineapple develop in the glass alongside freshly baked shortbread and lacquered parquet flooring, whilst spent tobacco and chopped macadamia nuts add additional depth. Reduction provides a lift out of the cavernous depths that 35 years of refill maturation can provide – cornflakes, white bread and brighter, fresher citrus notes of mandarin segments.
Taste: Dark, mentholated oak sits with heavily reduced stone fruits – peach cobbler, shrivelled oranges and a scattering of hedgerow berries. The combination of old woods and concentrated fruits expresses as a well stepped fruit tea, with plenty of mirror-sheened mahogany along for the ride. The development adds richness and some herbalness, with grated chocolate and polished brass and a handful of mint leaves. Dilution again expresses vibrancy belying the 1985 distillation date – palpable squeezed oranges and tangerines together with and increased mentholated character.
Finish: Medium to long and expressing Terry’s Chocolate Orange with After Eights.
Patience and dilution are both rewarded in this very well composed and highly orange-y Morangie. Out of the bottle there’s considerable depth delivered from a controlled, but substantive period in refill oak. But given an appropriate unravelling this offers considerably more with balanced, vibrant fruitiness perfectly offset against supple oak and in-step herbalness. Excellent.