For those not in the know Dr Bill Lumsden is the head of distilling and whisky creation at The Glenmorangie Company tasked with the rather enviable job of creating Glenmorangie’s range of expressions. In this the first of five short interview videos Dr Lumsden answers questions posed to the brand.
Dr. Bill Lumden Whisky Questions & Answers Part 1
David: Good morning Dr. Lumsden we are here at Bill’s restaurant at New York just to talk a little bit about Glenmorangie you have some questions from some of our fans on Facebook and a few others as well.
Bill Lumsden: Ok.
David: It’s great to see you.
Bill Lumsden: It’s good to be here.
David: Fantastic. So let’s start off few questions about whisky creation, question here, how much of whisky creation is science and how much of it is tasting and blending.
Bill Lumsden: Ok, I mean it’s a question I get asked quite often and the science comes in for the production states, the primary production of whisky and you very carefully control that, but when it actually comes to creating products in terms of nosing, tasting and blending that’s much more an art than science so if you wanted me to be empirical about it, it’s about 20% science 80% art I would say.
David: That’s interesting so that the human influence is really important
Bill Lumsden: Of course, absolutely. And of course it goes without saying that it really helps if the creator likes whisky themselves
David: That would be a good thing absolutely.
Bill Lumsden: Seems kind of obvious.
David: Absolutely. Ok well great that’s a…I think that’s a great answer. Next question. How do you ensure the consistency of your flavor profile and how much of their ability is there from batch to batch and barrel to barrel?
Bill Lumsden: Ok, if I can answer the last one first in terms of barrel to barrel you know every barrel is different but once again if you’ve got a steady supply of barrels to your own specification that should help in term of consistency but in terms of trying to keep the products consistent you always have a preselected benchmark samples that you are comparing the vattings with. There is no question the vattings do vary and I don’t think that’s a bad thing I think it makes it interesting and I have to say that sometimes Glenmorangie original for example, sometimes the vattings are only outstanding but the rest time are much better than that.
David: Shocking news, they are sometimes only outstanding. Question I have is, do we see any variation in the style or quality of the new make. Maybe from summer to winter with the temperature changes and environment?
Bill Lumsden: We do see variations I’m not certain how much is due to changes in the environment because as a Scotsman yourself that you know that it’s cold all the time. But during the summer the fermentations are a bit more difficult to control and you probably get slight flavor differences. On a batch to batch variation again yes the new makes do vary quite the little bit and the skill is then just vatting all the different mature samples together.
David: Great. Next question, what aspects of the production process have been the most difficult to maintain and keep consistent over the years and what quality control, control qualities do you think about when creating whisky?
Bill Lumsden: Right, ok I guess we are pretty much on top of production at both distilleries that we have been working on for many many years so we have a degree of consistency, but probably the distillation site affects because there’s the potential for things to go a ride there if you are not carefully controlling it and if you go back to the last question you do get charge to charge variations and it’s a better quality they are…
You can find part two here
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