I'll admit it. I'm late in joining the Glenmorangie bandwagon. It's never been my first choice for a dram of whisky. I order my whisky like I order my wine: less commercial, the exact opposite of Glenmorangie.
With a roughly six percent share of the global single malt market, Glenmorangie is one of the most well-known brands in the world. Its 'Original' is the bestselling whisky in Scotland. Glenmorangie consistently garners high praise in competitions and from liquor reviewing bodies, such as in 2012 when the Glenmorangie Company won the title "Distiller of the Year" at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
No doubt contributing to its success is the "Sixteen Men of Tain
" print ad campaign that ran for over 25 years, beginning in 1981. The advertisements emphasized the high craft that went into making the malt, while humanizing it in a brilliant manner, as the ads featured woodcuts of the 16 men involved in making the whisky, from the distillery manger to the tractorman.
While a scintillating marketing campaign may help sell their product, the fact that Glenmorangie makes good whisky also may have something
to do with so many people drinking it. Just saying'
In addition to the wood barrels, two factors contribute to their whisky expressions. First is the stills. Standing at 26 feet, the stills are much taller than traditional pot stills used in whisky production. The extra height in Glenmorangie's stills ensures that much of the distillate runs back down before exiting the lyne arm. The longer distillation provides a more pure, lighter and smoother spirit. Glenmorangie's still equipment was revolutionary for its time, closely resembling those of the gin industry.
Another key factor is the water. The unusually hard mineral springs within close proximity of the distillery add to the whisky's unique flavor.
I recently had the chance to taste three Glenmorangie expressions: The Original, Ealanta and the 18 Years Old.
The Original, a 10 year-old malt sold for less than $40 a bottle, is the core expression in the Glenmorangie range. It is a subtle, delicate and beautifully balanced dram with enough complexity to savor, making it an excellent addition to any liquor cabinet. On the nose, one will find rich aromas of lemon, nectarine and apple. The palate is fresh and balanced with flavors such as vanilla, creamy tiramisu and toffee. The finish is long but gentle, with fruit and vanilla flavors.
Glenmorangie (pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: About this sound listen (help·info); the toponym is believed to derive from either Gaelic gleann mor na sith "vale of tranquillity" or gleann mór innse "vale of big meadows") is a distillery in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland that produces single malt Scotch whisky. | Photo: |
Now in its fourth annual release, Glenmorangie Ealanta could be the lovechild of bourbon and Scotch whisky. It spends 19 years in virgin American white oak casks from the Mark Twain National Forest in the mountains of Missouri, where Glenmoranie owns some land. When Glenmorangie receives the virgin oak it has been dry aged for two years, heavily toasted and lightly charred to achieve maximum flavor. The oak is unseasoned when the Ealanta spirit goes in the casks.
On the nose one will smell aromas like honey, vanilla, butterscotch custard, oak and banana. The complex and surprisingly bold flavor profile includes notes such as peach, honey, orange zest and marzipan. The somewhat strong finish lingers.
18 Years Old
Glenmorangie's 18 Year whisky is a marriage of 70% ex-bourbon matured malt, and 30% oloroso sherry-finished (for 3 years). One the nose one will catch scents of lemon with light notes of green pear and golden raisins. The deep amber whisky's well-textured flavor profile includes , notes of mandarin, banana, apple, pear, apricots, nuts and vanilla, along with hints of raisins and fudge. The medium finish has a touch of almonds and sweet citrus notes, along with some bitter char notes. Overall, it's a light, but mildly complex, with some interesting fruit notes that I didn't expect. While not disappointing, it doesn't compare with either The Original or Ealanta.
Of the three drams I sampled, Ealanta was by far my top choice. However, at $120 a bottle, I would not fault anyone for thinking it is a pricey dram. For the price, The Glenmorangie Original is a stellar choice to taste the magical creation of the Men of Tain.