Glenmorangie is the crown jewel of LVMH and you can definitely tell they are the owners when you arrive at this distillery. It is kept in pristine condition and has the consistent burnt orange and black color theme all throughout. It overlooks Invergordon just north of Inverness. The vines growing on the sides of the building add to the character. As you walk into the visitors shop you will feel the sense of luxury. Not only the Glenmorangie Original, but specifically their Signet bottling. Although this is some of the pretension I don’t like within whisky and particularly scotch, the girls that work there were lovely. It may be similar to Abercrombie and Fitch, where you have to be quite attractive to get hired, because they were definitely the most beautiful tour guides I have ever seen.
Glenmorangie literally means tranquility, which is quite fitting for the French company. It was in 2004 when LVMH came and took over Glenmorangie along with Ardbeg on Islay. There is quite a significant amount of barley grown in the area and so they malted on site up until 1977 all locally grown grains. Glenmorangie’s flavor profile is known to be very fruity and delicate with oranges and honey, but their malt is actually peated to 2PPM (parts per million). This is compared to their sister, Ardbeg that is 55PPM. As far as I could tell there were no peat flavors on nose or pallet on anything that I tried. They also are the only one’s using chocolate or “roasted malt”. This specific malt is for their Signet bottle that I will share my tasting notes for later. Signet has one of the most unique flavor profiles I have ever had.
The water source they use is about a mile away and is naturally hard seeing as it runs down the hills through limestone. They take in about 300 tonnes of barley and run 32 mashes per week. Their fermentation process lasts around 52 hours and they use Mauri Distillers yeast. There are twelve wooden washbacks and twelve stills in total as well. I was able to taste their wort and some of the wash at the end of the fermentation. Here is how I described the wort as tasting… Remember in college when you threw a party and there were a bunch of Bud Lights left over and half full? Then you think they still might be good because you are young and stupid and don’t want to let any go to waste. So you taste one quick and it happens to be one where someone put a cigarette out in it? That’s what wash tastes like- warm Bud Light and old cigarettes! Not to turn you off, but this is why beer makers use hops for flavor.
Glenmorangie is infamous for their extremely tall stills. This is their claim to fame for such a light, sweet and fruity taste. The other claim to fame they have is their logo. This logo actually comes from a local Pictish Stone that was found near to the distillery. This Pitcish stone is called “Signet” and this is where they get the name from. It was the largest stone ever found and the original stone now rests in Edinburgh. You can see this logo prominently over all of their branding and it has become very important to their brand.
When I went in the tasting room to try my drams, I was told that for the Signet we were going to do a sensory tasting. I had never even heard of this, but apparently it is a new way of figuring out flavors within a dram. You put a headset on and they direct you on how to smell, taste and add water to the glass. There are noises and descriptions of what you should be smelling and tasting. It was quite interesting to see how auditory cues could make you believe you were smelling something you might not have originally. I wish I had been able to do my own tasting notes and then listened to the soundtrack to see if it matched up. One thing is for sure, that once you hear the audio, you will never forget that tasting note! A few of my tastings are below…
Signet- Non-Age Statement. Chocolate malt and aged in bourbon and sherry casks.
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Toffee, amaretto and orange juice, biscuits, tropical fruit.
Palate: Nutty spice and butterscotch. Cake and very viscous flavor to match the dark color.
This was released in 2012 and in the shop was about 120 Sterling Pounds per bottle. As you added water to this one it got into lighter flavors and not so spicy, such as oranges and vanilla.
Glenmorangie 10 Year Original
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Straw, tangerine, sugar cookies, Red Berry Capri Sun.
Palate: Lemon and cream soda with some vanilla.
One of the easiest drams I have ever drank. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to try whisky neat for the first time!
Milsean- Non-Age Statement
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Citrus, lemon/lime, some sort of fudge and maybe some coconut.
Palate: Spice, grapefruit and lemon.
Milsean means “sweet thing” and it has been aged for 2 ½ years in wine casks.
The Milsean wasn’t my favorite. It was a special edition release, so it won’t be around much longer. I would go for the 10 year old as my day drinking dram and the Signet as my steak dinner dram!
Next up is Dalmore..