Glenmorangie is one of the most famous distilleries and biggest selling brand names in the world. It is located next to the Dornoch Firth estuary in the north eastern Highlands, close to the small town of Tain. The distillery opened in 1843 and was previously a brewery. It is now owned by multi national drinks giant, Moet Hennessy. Glenmorangie is one of Scotland's largest whisky distilleries, producing 4 million litres per year, and has the tallest set of stills in Scotland with each one standing over 5 metres (16.5 feet) tall. These were bought from a gin distillery in London, which explains why they are different to other traditional whisky stills. This height also means that only the purest and lightest spirit reaches the condenser and gets collected for maturation.
Glenmorangie is one of the few distilleries that use hard water during production (this water bubbles up from a natural spring near to the distillery) and this combined with the lighter spirit gives it distinctive characteristics. The range is extensive and covers different ages and cask finishes including sherry, port and Sauternes. The distillery tour is also excellent and we can recommend it from our last visit there. This Original is the second best selling single malt whisky in the UK (behind Glenfiddich 12 years old) and is the fifth best seller in the world.
The colour is pale golden lemon yellow and the nose is quite understated and subtle. There is oaky vanilla, honey and something spicy and woody present (think of nutmeg). On the palate, the Original is light and fresh with an initial interesting citrus kick (imagine lemons) that is joined by more vanilla and honey, something nutty (think of hazelnuts and coconut especially) and spices (feeling warmer this time, like ginger). The finish is relatively short and dry with a hint of woody bitterness that threatens to tilt the whisky off balance. The nose and palate remind me more of the lighter style of whiskies from the Lowlands and this must be to do with the light spirit produced by those tall stills. The finish is more like a traditional Highland whisky.
This is a classic example of a quality bourbon cask matured whisky. It is a light and refreshing single malt that is delicate, soft and uncomplicated. These factors are what makes it popular in the mass whisky market. The other factors are the competitive price (a bottle should cost £20-30) and the wide availabilty (it is safe to say that almost any shop that sells alcohol will sell Glenmorangie Original).