Glenmorangie began life as a brewery on the outskirts of Tain in the northeast of Scotland. When William Matheson took charge in 1843, the site was converted into a distillery, which he named ‘Glenmorangie’, meaning ‘Glen of tranquility’.
Matheson acquired a pair of stills from a London gin distillery and shipped them to Tain and while they may have long since been replaced, their shape and design remain critical to the character of the Glenmorangie spirit today. The tall, elegant necks of those original stills have been replicated and Glenmorangie now houses the tallest stills in Scotland, allowing them to create a light, refined new make spirit.
Single malt whisky is distilled in copper for three main reasons. Copper is easy to work with and can be moulded to any shape. It is also an excellent conductor of heat. Finally, it acts as a purifier, removing impurities from the spirit. The shape of the still is of great importance to the character of the finished whisky with a taller, longer neck like Glenmorangie allowing for more copper contact and lighter, purer alcohol reaching the top whereas squat, bulbous stills like at Lagavulin for example, allow heavier phenolic compounds to rise, creating an altogether oilier, weightier dram.
Glenmorangie take great pride in the spirit produced in their tall stills and it would seem that they are not alone, as their single malt is the best selling in its native land, and third best selling in the world.
The 10 year old Glenmorangie ‘Original’ is bottled at 40% and is available in the UK for around £35.
The nose is Malty with Vanilla, Orange and a little Chocolate. Also a Floral Heather note, some Cream and Lemon – like Lemon Meringue Pie. On the palate meanwhile there’s Honey, Orange, a little Pepper, Vanilla and a touch of Coffee.
Smell: A subtle yet well balanced nose.
Taste: For me the taste doesn’t quite live up to the nose, and it’s a little too light bodied for my personal preference – that’ll be those tall stills – but it is nonetheless, a very drinkable and enjoyable dram.
Value: Should come in around the £30 – £35 mark and it’s good value at that price as a quality, entry level, single malt.
Score: 39.5 / 50. A perfect introduction to whisky. Pleasant aroma and flavour with no challenging characteristics. It’s the ideal dram for beginners but can be enjoyed by all, regardless of experience.