By Richard Thomas
Glenmorangie is made in Tain, Scotland, and Tain’s Scots have been in the booze-making business since medieval times. The Glenmorangie connection starts in 1738, when a brewery was opened on Morangie Farm. In the 1840s that farm was purchased by one William Matheson, who converted it from a brewery into a distillery. The distillery was bought by Macdonald and Muir at the end of the First World War, who operated it through the lean years of America’s prohibition, the Great Depression and the Second World War and into Glenmorangie’s post-war Renaissance. The company eventually went public, and in 2004 Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought control of it.
Like all great whiskeys, Glenmorangie has a fine water source in the Tarlogie Springs, and the barley is grown by a local co-operative. The stills used to make Glenmorangie scotch are classic copper pots and the tallest of their kind in Scotland, operated by a famous crew known as “The Sixteen Men of Tain.”
As far as the Scots are concerned, Glenmorangie is ambrosia. It is the top-selling single malt in Scotland.
Glenmorangie 10 Year Single Malt is the entry-level scotch of a premium line. Also referred to as Glenmorangie Original, the scotch was repackaged in recent years with a new bottle and label (pictured at left), probably stemming from the new ownership. The bottle is a pretty one and reminiscent of Glenmorangie’s tall stills, with their thin, long necks. Even so, I much prefer the old bottle’s label (pictured at right), so much so that I’ve always thought of the change as a mistake. Both bottles show off the scotch’s fine color quite well, though, and that color is a deep, shiny gold. Glenmorangie Original is aged for 10 years in old bourbon casks, and bottled at 40% alcohol.
The aroma of Glenmorangie 10 Year has citrus fruits at the center, moderated with vanilla and hints of the smokey smell of toasted almonds. Once on the palate, the vanilla comes forward and the citrus recedes into the background to joint the toasty, smokey almonds. The rotation continues on the finish, where it is the smoke’s turn to come forward alongside a pleasant warmth.
Glenmorangie Original typically goes for about $35 in the United States, although sometimes it is seen as high $45 or $50 a bottle. In Europe, it is almost a case of the same numbers in a pricier currency, since I usually see it for 40 or 45 euros.
In 2010, Glenmorangie 10 Year brought home a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 2008 saw it win Gold – Best in Class at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.