I like Glemorangie’s products a lot. They are well-finished, consistent and pure to their style. Their basic 10-year is a smooth dram worthy of quiet moods, some good cheese, contemplation and relaxation. It’s also reasonably priced. Their finished expressions, using port, Sauternes and sherry casks take their 10-year expression and finish for an additional two years, result in intense, well-married flavors. Note to self, I have yet to review these…coming soon.
It was with some disappointment then that we encountered our first truly industrial-scale distillery tour at Glenmorangie. The tour buses in the vast parking lot should have tipped us off. The Glenmorangie distillery produces 6 million liters per year, a bit more than the Balvenie. Their tour trade, however, must be many times that of the Balvenie or Glenfarclas. On the plus side, the tour is inexpensive: £7, and that includes a taste at the end. Also, they have a big, modern, well-stocked shop with a lot of special bottlings available. On the down side, the tour is short, with few photo ops, and starts with a healthy dose of marketing.
While Glenmorangie (rhymes with ‘orange-y’) has a solid pedigree (see below) and great affirmation as “the most popular malt in Scotland” (according to DrinkBritain and others), they aren’t above a bit of marketing puffery. They boast “air-dried” bourbon casks. That’s good, as it’s difficult to dry casks underwater, for example. Though I suppose some new-age Gen-Z whisky maker will come out with vacuum-dried casks, just because they can. But no matter, what concerns this writer is the taste, and Glenmorangie is OK there.
First off, they produce a whisky with an honest color. Light straw (see photo), unencumbered by bogus colorant, it’s telegraphing a spirit of honesty and perhaps light, sophisticated drinking. This is no Islay brawler, ready to knock you back with a nose full of diesel smoke. And although the Glenmorangie marketing department promise a spirit that is “soft, mellow and creamy,” you won’ be disappointed by a characterless dram. I was quite surprised by its depth of character, in fact. For a cool $45, I was expecting something like the previously reviewed Cardhu, which is well-made and inoffensive, if not outstanding. Or Aberlour’s 12 which is inoffensive as well but just kinda boring (which their A’bunadh definitely is not). Glenmorangie 10 is inoffensive, but so much more. It is surprisingly complex for a budget-priced single malt.
That, from someone who has a Scotch locker full of island malts. Ah well, maybe I’m growing up.