There is no need in presenting Glenmorangie, one of the better known Single malts brands world-wide and one of the top selling Single malts. I am not a Glenmorangie devotee, I love their Nectar d’Or Sauternes finish whisky, and did taste some of their expressions previously. My friend Yossi (Josh) form the JSMWS is a big Glenmo fan, he’s always raving about Glenmo, and this was a good chance of sampling more expressions and getting to know the brand better.
Before we delve into the drams, a little background: Glenmorangie is one of the 3 biggest distilleries in terms of volume when single malts are involved. It can produce 6 million litres of malt per year, and boasts the highest stills among all scotch distilleries (standing high above 5 meters each). The stills which are an exact copy of the original stills placed there in 1843, were originally stills meant to produce Gin, hence their height. It is said that the height of the stills, the lighter and more ‘pure’ the spirit that passes through them. in addition Glenmorangie use a stream of water from the Tarlogie river, which contains ‘hard’ water, which also contribute to the special profile of the spirit.
On each bottle of the Glenmorangie there is a writing that says “Perfected by the 16 men of Tain”, which refers to the village of Tain, near the distillery. In the olden days, it is said that 16 members of the village were the entire work force of the distillery. Today, of course there are more workers , but the tradition of the 16 stays.
One more key factor in maturing the spirit, is the casks. Glenmorangie does invest a lot in its wood technology, and even owns a few Oak forests in the USA, from which the new casks are constructed and then loaned to Bourbon and whisky distilleries (such as Jack Daniels) to be used once, then shipped to Scotland to use for maturing the Glenmorangie spirit.
in 2004 LVMH has acquired Glenmorangie from it’s former owners, and in 2008 a re-organization of the product line began, in an effort to cut down on number of different wood finishes, and also re-branding and re-design of the bottles. Gelnmorangie who was a pioneer in the whisky ‘finishes’ in casks previously used for other spirit aging (wine,port,sherry) decided to focus on only a few whisky finishes (some of which we’ve tasted in this event).
The tasting event was organized by the Israeli Importer of Glenmorangie (who is also the importer of Ardbeg,Highland Park and The Macallan – a nice array of whiskies they import). The event was completely professional and aimed at the press (TV,Lifestyle Magazines,and News paper Journalists) and i was the only Whisky Blogger invited, a big honour.
As stated, The event took place at a very nice Resto-Cafe called “Reviva & Celia” located in a suburb of Tal-Aviv (Ramat Hasharon), and gladly i was on vacation that day, since it was a work day, at 1400, so i was able to attend.
Arik (manager of the FIW company) hosted the tasting himself, being a big Glenmo follower, for many years, and we set to taste 6 expressions, all accompanied by some great food supplied by the restaurant.
One thing, since this was a tasting event, and i usually i dont post notes on drams i don’t try at home at the comfort of my whisky ‘lab’, the notes here are less detailed and based only on one tasting (normally i do a minimum of 2 to get a better perspective on the dram).
Now let’s start talking whisky!
We started with the ‘Original’:
This is the entry-level Glenmo, based on 10 year old spirit aged in Bourbon casks. It was changed in 2008 as part of the re-organization that took place by LVMH. This expression is used as the base of the finishes to follow, and is very light, fruity and pleasant. On the nose we get pear,apple and vanilla with touches of citrus fruit, very appetising nose. The Palate here is fruity (think of pear) , citrus, and spice. There are hints of almonds. The finish is long , with touches of Oak,spice and Burnt sugar notes. A very good whisky, approachable and highly drinkable, as one of the panel members (a well known Israeli TV news reporter) said : it’s so drinkable and nice, you cant drink only one dram. you must have two!. I tend to agree. I did like this one quite a bit! Certainly it’s been too long since i had it last.
The next dram was the ‘Lasanta’:
This dram is based on the ‘Original’ which was finished for a short period in ‘Oloroso’ Sherry butts. The finish does add some interesting notes of dried fruits ,heather honey,burnt sugar ,milk chocolate and balanced sweetness on the nose. The palate is richer here : the sultamas shine through,some prunes , butter and nuts as well. The finish is long, spicy with wood and some leather. A good sherry finished dram for sherry fans, but still delicate and teasing.
We continued with the ‘Quinta Ruban’:
This dram is again based on the ‘Original’ , this time finished in Port pipes, which are sourced from the vineyards of Portugal (called ‘Quintas’, hence the name). The port gives this expression sweet aromas of citrus fruit,dark chocolate and nuts. The palate is again, sweetness and bitterness of dark chocolate,nuts, and Turkish delight. A fine dram, though it does not rich the heights of the ‘Lasanta’.
As described before, the tasting was accompanied by very tasty dishes from the kitchen of the hosting Cafe (delicious beef Carpaccio, Green leaf salad with figs,Shrimps in tomato salsa.). For main course we were served a hefty chunk of roast beef, accompanied by roasted potatoes, and mini ‘Kebabs’ on top of chickpeas and Eggplant roasted on a grill). A real feast to the eyes, and very tasty as well.
We then continued to one of my favorite whiskies : The ‘Nectar D’or’ .
This dram is essentially the ‘Original’ finished in French dessert wine casks (Sauternes). The nose is sweet,apricots in liquor and some cake. The palate is rich and sweet, with malt notes, fruit, and lemon rind. The finish is gentle and sweet : some delicate wood,Crème Brule, and malt notes. really a yummy dram. Excellent stuff. this is wine finish at it’s best! way to go Glenmo!
The last but not least dram was the Glenmorangie 18 year old. this whisky is aged in Bourbon casks for 15 years, then transferred into Oloroso Sherry casks for an additional of 3 years time.
The nose here is heavier, the 8 extra years in the casks are well felt. This is a heavier, bigger, and more complex dram that needs its time in the glass. The palate is malty,with dried fruits , some citrus, and heather honey. The finish is long with fruits and dry sherry notes, thanks to the Oloroso… A grand whisky, less drinkable than the 10 year old, but more complex. Not your daily dram, but a wonderful dram when you have time to sit, relax and contemplate.
My winners in the tasting were the Original, for being approachable and drinkable, and fresh. The Lasanta, for the lovely sherry complexity , and the nectar D’or, which is one of my top go-to drams.
After we finished the tasting, and before having dessert, we went out to the parking lot facing the Cafe, and were up for a surprise. The local importer as part of it’s advertising campaign, had built a ‘portable’ bar inside a truck, which will be travelling around israel’s pubs and bars, and hosting Glenmorangie tastings in various places. A very cool concept. We were led into the truck/Bar and were handed some Ardbeg 10 drams while sitting inside. cool or what? Below you can find pics of the truck from outside and inside. Lovely idea!
We returned to the table for summary notes, and some coffee and desserts . Lovely.
We were also told about a nice campaign under the slogan : “Discover Scotland’s finest’, which is led by the Israeli Importer in an attempt to make quality scotch whisky more approchable to the Israeli public. As you know – Whisky prices in Israel are crazy high, because of a 190% customs on whiskies. This causes almost 90% of all whisky to be bought at Duty Free shops, rather than liqueur stores in Israel (price differences can be up to 3 times cheaper in the DF) . The campaign will involve reducing prices of selected single malts by about 30% local market price (still more expensive than the duty free by about 200%), but more tolerable. Hopefully with a taxation reform in a few years, it will be possible to get whiskies at reasonable prices, and not at the current rates.
Summing it all up:
This was indeed a great opportunity to get to know the Glenmorangie core range, re-taste some whiskies, and explore new ones. The event was hosted very professionally and i had a grand time. Many thanks to Betty of FIW for inviting me to this panel.