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Glenmorangie Unveils The Lighthouse Innovation Distillery


Innovation has been a buzzword within the scotch whisky world for years. Distilleries tout their inventive use of barrels, experimental barley varieties, and different variations as examples of experimentation. Nobody in scotch whisky has been extra ahead pondering for longer than Invoice Lumsden, director of whisky creation at Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. He’s the person who despatched whisky into area and certainly one of two single malt distillers to pioneer cask ending within the Nineteen Eighties and 90s. And now, with the opening of Glenmorangie’s new innovation distillery, The Lighthouse, Lumsden can have the possibility to carry his wildest imaginings to life.

“The great thing about this plant is that it’ll let me trial this stuff,” Lumsden says, explaining that many concepts couldn’t be tried out on Glenmorangie’s important stills due to the distillery’s tight manufacturing schedule.

The Lighthouse sits on the coronary heart of Glenmorangie’s historic web site however is clearly set aside. It rises a number of tales larger than the encompassing buildings, the stillroom paneled on all sides in glossy glass. The Lighthouse has been geared up with state-of-the-art tools that permits customization and virtually infinite tinkering at each step of the whisky-making course of. It’s far past what a standard scotch distillery can do.

Contained in the Mad Scientist’s Lab

It begins with step one: milling the grain. The Lighthouse will be capable to course of not simply malted barley, however quite a lot of grain varieties. It’ll even course of non-grain substances, which Lumsden says he’s desirous to work with. A stress cooker and variable mash tun permit for extra flexibility on the mashing stage.

The exercise of yeast is the primary main constructing block of taste for whisky. Lumsden wrote his doctoral thesis on fermentation science, so naturally The Lighthouse will give him many instruments on this area. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled washbacks, that are frequent in different whisky industries however uncommon in Scotland. Manipulating the temperature will permit Lumsden to ferment for longer instances—per week, two, perhaps extra. It can carry out extra flavors and elevated complexity within the whisky. “I’m hoping to create a complete vary of latest and thrilling flavors,” he says, noting that fermentation shall be the very first thing he performs round with.

Issues get extra fascinating within the stillhouse. “The stills have plenty of bells and whistles on them,” Lumsden says. “I’ve the potential to provide a complete vary of various types of spirit—not simply Glenmorangie’s basic, floral, delicate type, however a way more full-bodied type.” Completely different parts, like the flexibility to manage reflux and two several types of condenser, afford Lumsden large flexibility when designing new whiskies.

Increasing the frontiers of whisky

Lumsden has been experimenting for over 1 / 4 century at Glenmorangie. He made whiskies like Signet, which pushed the boundaries of the tightly regulated scotch business by its use of closely roasted chocolate malt. Lumsden needed to persuade the notoriously finicky Scotch Whisky Affiliation (SWA) that Signet met the strict {qualifications} of single malt. He might nicely need to do the identical for future creations from The Lighthouse.

He’s prepared. “[My boss Thomas Moradpour, president and CEO of The Glenmorangie Company,] perhaps thinks if I don’t tangle with the SWA then I’m not being as profitable as I might be,” Lumsden says.


Dr. Invoice Lumsden within the stomach of The Lighthouse.
Courtesy Picture

Along with experimenting with yeast and fermentation, Lumsden will mess around with substances past malted barley. Not simply different cereal grains, however even non-grains like fruits, greens, and extra. He may match with peat as nicely, although he says, “It’s not going to be on the high of my record in the intervening time.” Lumsden has no scarcity of concepts. “Inspiration comes principally from wherever and in all places,” he says. “I’ve bought a really vivid creativeness. My creativeness usually runs away from me and lands me in hassle.”

Though he turned 60 final 12 months, Lumsden has no plans of retiring, particularly with The Lighthouse at his disposal. “The arrival of this distillery is one thing that can preserve me completely and intrigued for a few years to return,” he says. “Frankly, the prospect of retiring fills me with dread and horror. I’d wish to assume I’ll be round for a number of extra years.”


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