I would venture to guess that a pastor must first enjoy a reasonable tenure before being so bold as to offer any suggestions for changing the communion wine selection used as the vehicle for delivering the blood of Christ to the people in the fellowship. It’s just not something one goes and changes on a whim because it can be offensive. It would need to be done slowly and slyly. If I were going to try it, it would take a year, at least. Each Sunday, I’d mix a percentage of the new wine in with the old, raising the percentage ever so slowly, until finally, by the end of the year, the new wine would be the accepted standard. In the case of Glenmorangie’s Finealta, the mixing task had a different purpose, but nevertheless, I can imagine the Master Distiller sending his assistants out of the room in order to preserve them from such possible offense, and as the door closes behind them, he de-corks cask after cask, mixing them together in search of something wonderful. And somewhere along the way, as the evening hours fade and the morning sun begins to rise, an “Aha!” comes from the room. A sacramental mixture is discovered, unlocked, and preserved for the coming ages.
I believe that the folks at Glenmorangie are Scotch “thinkers” as opposed to Scotch “drinkers.” But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Finealta is Gaelic for “elegant.” Essentially, a recipe dating back to around 1903 was discovered in the archives at Glenmorangie, one that mixed certain percentages of various ages from various casks, finally producing a perfectly elegant mixture. Finealta is an attempt at recreating this recipe.
Of course, I have no idea if this particular edition is even remotely close to what would have resided in those original batches, but if it is, then I can see why the Master Distiller would direct his assistants to file away the recipe in safekeeping, knowing he’d discovered something extraordinary.
Now, remember I said that Glenmorangie is a distillery that employs Scotch thinkers? I have a theory. I think that when they choose the name for their editions, they aren’t just picking names that will be snazzy or memorable, but rather they are working like masons to plant clues, choosing words that actually prepare the consumer for the experience. For example, even the Glenmorangie name gives you the hint of citrus. Do you see it? Guess what I tasted in my first dance with Glenmorangie, that 18-year? Orange. Even better, when you see the word “Finealta” from the floor of the liquor store, it is really easy to see that “f” as a “p.” With that, your mind carries you to interpret without fully reading, and you get “pineapple.” And that’s what I thought it said the first time I saw it. Guess what you’ll smell (and taste slightly) with the first sweet aromatic waft? Blueberries. Just kidding. Pineapple.
But fruits are not the only gifts given. You’ll sense a little caramel, and a hint of peat smoke. Normally, as my regular readers have probably discovered, I don’t necessarily appreciate that, but in this case, it helps. What could be almost too light, becomes fuller, inching its way more closely to perfect. Although, perfect is still an overstatement. Finealta, or elegant, is suitably accurate.