Enjoying a splendid single malt whisky is one of the few distinguished pleasures of life, and whisky tasting itself is an activity that is an acquired taste. The luxury of savoring these meticulously crafted spirits is an unparalleled joy unto itself, and two names stand out vividly when speaking of noteworthy single malt Scotch whiskies; Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie.
A historic Speyside heavyweight, and a Highland legend, both Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie boast of a history that dates back to the 1800s, and are both contributors in the perfection of the art of whisky making.
Drawing inspiration from its location in a ‘glen’ of the river Fiddich, the Glenfiddich distillery began production on Christmas Day in 1887. The distillery had begun construction by 1886 under the leadership of founder William Grant, who waited until an auspicious day to begin production of what would one day become of the world’s most well-known single malt whiskies.
A Speyside single malt in every manner, the name Glenfiddich is Gaelic for Valley of the Deer, and is represented in their logo which features a stag.
More than 32 ‘swan-necked’ copper stills at this Dufftown distillery produce the Glenfiddich single malt. Other than the standard single malt expressions, special releases and limited edition Glenfiddich single malts are often eccentrically finished in ex-Rum casks from the Caribbean, and Sherry butts from Spain for different expressions.
Carrying the prefix that is typically a mainstay of Speyside brands, Glenmorangie is actually classified as a Highland distillery, and its name is derived from Gaelic, meaning Valley of Tranquility.
Converted from a brewery to a distillery by William Matheson in 1843, the Glenmorangie Distillery is located in Tain in the county of Ross-Shire. It was then acquired by a firm called Macdonald and Muir, and is owned by French company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.
The Glenmorangie Distillery boasts of having the tallest stills in the country of Scotland, which the company claims are beneficial when it comes to producing their light tasting spirit. Another exclusively ‘Glenmorangie’ aspect that helps the brand add their own unique spin to their single malts is barrels crafted from Oak trees in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, United States. These barrels are aired for two years before being used by Jack Daniels and Heaven Hill, subsequently being sent to Scotland for Glenmorangie to mature their spirits in.
Both Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie have nearly two centuries worth of whisky making experience, and are both known to be extremely well-received Scotch whiskies around the world.
Glenfiddich has a vast portfolio with 10 different expressions of varying ages and finishes, whereas Glenmorangie has just over 12 different core and prestige expressions excluding numerous other limited and private editions they have released over the years.
Glenmorangie have a vast range of expressions including the Pride 1974, while the oldest Glenfiddich expression is the vintage Glenfiddich Excellence 26-year-old.
Glenmorangie wins in this category with relative ease as their inventory is truly breathtaking with a number of expressions to try, and cherish.
When it comes to tasting notes, let us see how the two icons hold up when we put together the standard core expressions from each brand in competition with each other. It’s the Glenfiddich 12-year-old against the Glenmorangie Original with an age statement of 10 years.
The Glenfiddich 12-year-old is the product of only using the heart of the spirit, and the high cut point of this single malt is one of its unique characteristics. It is matured in American Oak Ex-Bourbon and European Oak sherry barrels for 12 years developing a creamy, mellow finish.
The Glenmorangie single malt is matured in first and second fill Ex-Bourbon American White Oak barrels made from the brand’s unique air-dried designer barrels, forming a complex single malt that is sweet, creamy and soft.
Let us put the tasting notes of Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie in comparison with each other to see who comes out on top.
Glenfiddich 12-year-old is a deep golden in color with fresh and fruity nose with hints of pears, a palate of butterscotch, malt and subtle oak flavors for a long, smooth finish.
Glenmorangie Original, 10-year-old carries a citrusy aroma with traces of peach and vanilla, a palate that is distinctly vanilla followed by flowery fruitiness and long, clean finish with hints of orange and peach.
Now when it comes to tasting notes, the verdict really is subjective since no two whisky lovers share an equal proclivity for the same flavors, so let us move on to the next category which is sales.
Glenfiddich was at one point in 2008, the world’s bestselling single malt whisky, whereas Glenmorangie in 2007 was said to be producing around 10 million bottles each year, and selling a significant portion of it (6 to 6.5 million) in the UK itself. It is also the bestselling single malt in Scotland since 1983, and who better to know their Scotch than the Scottish themselves?
It appears as if Glenmorangie easily clinches this tie, and the battle between Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie too, ends in the latter’s favor. Our verdict? Glenmorangie is the winner here.