Glenmorangie, although its name sounds like a typical Speyside Scotch whisky, belongs to the Highlands region. It is one of the most famous and successful single malts whisky from the Highlands region, both critically and commercially. The name ‘Glenmorangie’ roughly translates to the ‘valley of tranquillity’, or the ‘valley of big meadows’.
The Glenmorangie Distillery is situated in Tain, Ross-Shire is deeply embedded in the history of the region, and the region is likewise embedded deeply into the history of Glenmorangie. The Men of Tain, workers who ran the distillery’s operations, occupy a near mythical identity in tales told by Glenmorangie. The distillery was built by William Matheson, converting a brewery into a distillery and choosing the name ‘Glenmorangie’. It was eventually purchased by Macdonald and Muir, one of the Glenmorangie distillery’s primary customers.
Ownership was passed on to the Macdonald family, and they were majority owners of the Glenmorangie Distillery and brand for nearly 90 years. Currently, the business belongs to French conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. LVMH, as the company is abbreviated, opted to refresh the Glenmorangie core range by renaming most of their expressions, and changing the shape of the bottles.
One of the peculiar, yet fascinating details about the Glenmorangie brand is that they own their own forest in the Ozark Mountains in the state of Missouri. The Oak trees from the region are used to craft Glenmorangie’s very own Oak barrels, which the company prefers to air dry for two years, later being loaned out to whiskey makers in America such as Jack Daniel’s and Heaven Hill Bourbon. Another interesting fact about Glenmorangie is that they claim to have the ‘tallest stills’ at any distillery on Scottish mainland.
Currently, the Glenmorangie core range is made up of five different expressions such as the Glenmorangie Original, Glenmorangie Lasanta, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 Year Old, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old and the Glenmorangie Nectar D’or.
Unlike most single malt Scotch whiskies that pick a 12 Year Old single malt to be their standard, entry level expression, Glenmorangie have opted for a 10 Year Old. Known as a classic Highland single malt, embodying all the qualities mostly associated with single malts from the region. The Original is rich, full-bodied and intensely flavoured with deep aromas. If someone says they love Glenmorangie, chances are they are referring to this one because it really sets the tone to what one must expect from a Glenmorangie single malt.
This Glenmorangie expression is called so because they only produced one expression for many years until they decided to diversify their range to compete with other heavyweights in Scotland like The Glenlivet, Macallan and Glenfiddich. The nose on this single malt is quite fruity, sweet and floral with intense aromas of apples, ripe peach and orange zest. The palate is complex, sweet, fruity and oily and there is more fruit brought in with the long finish. Glenmorangie really know their stuff, and they may not have hit the mainstream worldwide, they do quite well in Scotland itself.
The Lasanta is a 12 Year Old Glenmorangie single malt Scotch, and was also part of the rebranding process after the 2004 takeover by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. It has been finished in a variety of barrels to give it a rich, intense flavour profile. The Lasanta spends nearly 10 years maturing in ex-Bourbon barrels, later spending 2 years in Oloroso Sherry butts and Pedro Ximenez Sherry butts. Extracting all that Sherry influence from the Sherry barrels does the Lasanta a world of good, and the flavours are very much in tandem with Glenmorangie’s natural profile.
Sherry finished single malts and blends have become all the rage in recent years, and they have been noticed to be universally pleasing. Although not lot of distilleries use them wisely, balancing the Sherry with their own identity. The Lasanta does well in that regard, and brings a wonderful spicy aroma of cinnamon and star anise with sweet honey, and dried raisins. The palate is warming, intensely fruity and hints of nutty and spicy flavours. The finish is long, fruity and oily. Good stuff from Glenmorangie on the Lasanta.
Another fascinating Glenmorangie 12 Year Old release finished in special barrels. This time, the distillery has opted to go for ex-Port barrels, referred to as ‘Port Pipes’ for their narrower, distinct shape. These ‘Port Pipes’ have been sourced from exclusive wine estates from Portugal, which are also called ‘Quintas’. You see where they are getting their names from now don’t you? Anyway, the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 Year Old is also non-chill filtered, so there is a lot of texture going on with this single malt which is definitely a good thing.
Like the Lasanta, the Quinta Ruban 12 also spends 10 years maturing in ex-Bourbon barrels before being transferred to these ‘Port Pipes’. The Port has influenced this single malt quite a bit, giving it a hint of berry sweetness, soft spice and a refreshing fruity nose. There is dark fruit and nutty chocolate with a slight floral touch on the palate, with a long, silky finish. This expression has won a handful of awards and medals for Glenmorangie, and one can see why.
The senior Quinta Ruban has an age-statement of 14 years, and if you feel like this is an upgrade on the Quinta Ruban 12 Year Old, you are not entirely incorrect. Although an upgrade would imply the 12 Year Old required one, but the 14 Year Old is simply Glenmorangie going “What if?” and then actually doing it. So what have they done? Like the Quinta Ruban 12, this expression has also spend a decade maturing in ex-Bourbon barrels, after which it spends four years in Port barrels. That is two more than the 12 Year Old, and it really does something to the whisky.
This Quinta Ruban is also non-chill-filtered, and we would be lying if we said the four years of Port finishing did not have a deep, deep influence on this single malt. There is rich and decadent dark chocolate, fresh mint leaves and crisp, spicy pepper on the nose, and the palate brings some more chocolate. Very delicately floral, and gently fruity and the texture is really luscious. The finish is very long, and chocolaty once again with an infusion of juicy oranges.
The final Glenmorangie expression from their core range, and it does get all the special treatment you may have expected it to receive. This is a Sauternes finished 12 Year Old, the last one from their cask-finished core range. The name is a reference to the Sauternes itself, and the barrels have been sourced directly from France. Unlike the Sherry and Port finished Lasanta and Quinta Ruban, the Nectar D’or is quite different. Quite smooth, mellow and not packed with explosive flavours, instead being very subtle.
The Glenmorangie Nectar D’or is sweet first, and the Sauternes effect is quite obvious. Oh, and the Nectar D’or is also non-chill-filtered like its cousins. The nose on this expression is quite pleasant, and like we said the sweetness is just the protagonist here. There is citrus, soft vanilla, candied ginger and some oak for an entire ensemble of delightful aromas. The palate is mellow, creamy and sweet again, with some nutty goodness accompanied by some fruit. Long signature Glenmorangie finish, and the wine influence slowly fades away. For the price, this isn’t a bad deal at all, and for people that are willing to try something new from time to time, this one wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The lack of any peat or smoke does turn many a whisky lover away, but Glenmorangie has plenty to offer in lieu of peat or smoke.
16th December 2016https://www.glenmorangie.com/en/glenmorangie-the-original
The scent of citrus and ripening peaches is softened by the aroma of vanilla.
About a minute after tasting, you are left with a clean and salving aftertaste with hints of orange and peach.
First, vanilla is detected on the tongue before it ripples along the palate bringing a burst of flowery fruitiness.