Maris Otter had once been a key component in England’s premium craft-brewing industry, but demand fell in the 1970s as producers switched to higher yielding varieties. Then through the 1980s increasing use of uncertified seed as well as cross-pollination put the grain at further risk, a serious concern for the brewing industry which still depended on its unique flavour to produce cask-conditioned ales. So, two English seed merchants, in 1992, formed a partnership to rejuvenate the variety, beginning a programme to re-establish its purity and rebuild stocks. And it was their efforts that attracted the attention of Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation, Dr Bill Lumsden. “I felt this enticing barley might make a perfect ingredient for a limited edition Glenmorangie,” he says. “Its rich malty profile could bring a different dimension to our whisky. Plus, there was something in the story of its survival, the determination to prioritise quality over cost, something of our own ethos and a little bit of romance too! So I arranged for a batch to be sent to my laboratory." Maris Otter’s ability to impart a deep, rich taste gives Glenmorangie the perfect opportunity to create an intriguing experience for single-malt enthusiasts.
Tùsail, in Scots Gaelic, means ‘originary’, not exactly an everyday English word. It can best be explained as ‘causing the origin of.’ And Tùsail’s origins, the Maris Otter barley, can be seen in its bright ochre colour and tasted through its rich, rustic flavours of nut toffee, sweet barley malt, ginger, cinnamon, molasses and dates. Alongside these notes are the more familiar Glenmorangie ones of peaches, oranges and smoked pears. The contrast is striking but the effect is harmonious.