Glenmorangie began life as a brewery in the 1730’s on the outskirts of Tain. It was when William Matheson took charge in 1843 that it was converted into a distillery and the name changed to Glenmorangie – meaning ‘glen of tranquility’.
Matheson acquired a couple of gin stills from London with which to make his spirit and had them shipped up to Tain. These two stills have long since gone but their influence continues to this day… Glenmorangie have the tallest stills in Scotland and this plays no small part in creating the flavour profile of the spirit.
Whisky is made in copper pot stills, firstly because copper is easy to mould into any shape, secondly, because it’s an excellent heat conductor and thirdly, because it creates a catalytic reaction that removes impurities and off-notes from the spirit. The size and shape of the Pot Still is crucial to the character of the spirit coming out the other end. A tall still, like those at Glenmorangie, will make it harder for the evaporating spirit and in particular, the heavier oils within it, to rise to the top, meaning only the lightest and purest spirit will come through. On the other hand, a short, squat still will allow more of the oil rich spirit to reach the top, producing a more robust, more intense spirit – like Lagavulin, for example.
Glenmorangie take great pride in the spirit produced in these tall stills and it would seem that the world agrees with them. Glenmorangie is the best selling single malt in it’s native Scotland and third best selling in the world.
For the purposes of review, I’m looking at the standard 10 year old Glenmorangie ‘Original’, the flagship expression of the range. The nose is Malty, with Vanilla, Orange and a little Chocolate. There’s also a slightly Floral Heather note and 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.
The Scores: About the Scores…
Smell: 16.5 / 20. It’s a subtle yet well balanced nose.
Taste: 15 / 20. For me the taste doesn’t quite live up to the nose, and it’s a little too light bodied for my preference – that’ll be those tall stills – but it is nonetheless, a very drinkable and enjoyable dram.
Value: 8 / 10. Should come in around the £30 – £35 mark and it’s good value at that price as a quality, entry level, single malt.
Overall: 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.