What’s your poison? I’ll for sure tell you mine has to be whisky. When you learn about the culture and process of how it ends up in the bottle, you appreciate it even more. Charles Steel (pictured), Glenmorangie business development manager for Europe and the Middle East was recently in town and he gave us incites on the single malt whisky. Steel worked for Moet and Hennesy before moving to Glenmorangie in 2015.

What makes Glenmorangie single malt whisky unique?

Several factors make it unique, but the most important part is the distillery; it’s actually the tallest in Scotland. This means only the lightest vapours make it to the final product. Having less liquid during distillation makes it smooth. A shorter still results to a heavy and oily liquid.

Take us through the process of making it?

Single malt whisky is made with only water, wheat and yeast and has to be matured for at least three years. The cask majorly determines the flavour of the whisky. Between 40 and 70 per cent of the flavour is from the oak. The liquid stays in the cask for 10 years, coming out as original Glenmorangie.

What kind of cask do you use?

We use ex-bourbon casks. They are mellower after being used in maturing the bourbon and we only use the cask twice to get the maximum flavour.

The bourbon sits in the cask for quite some time. What does this do to the liquid?

The longer the maturation the more mellow the whisky is and for extra maturation, the original goes to sherry or red wine or sauterne cask for two to four years, resulting to richness of colour and taste.

What have you noticed when it comes to the whisky drinking culture in Kenya?

I have been going around doing trainings and I have noticed that Kenyans are eager to learn about single malt whisky. Many mixologists love to create whisky-based cocktails and that shows that they’re many whisky lovers around here.

Is there a best way to drink whisky?

Whisky is versatile, so whichever way you like fits. A bit of water softens the alcohol causing a change in texture and also revealing layers of complexity and aromas. For those who love their whisky neat, the best option will be to try out the aged whiskies and enjoy its full complexity.

What about the rocks?

Adding two or three rocks to whisky closes the top notes that were released with water, heightening the base flavours from the oak barrels instead.

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