One of the world's leaders
Glenmorangie is one of the most famous whisky distilleries and biggest selling brand names in the world. It is located on the edge of the north eastern Highland town of Tain, on the shores of the Dornoch Firth estuary. The distillery opened in 1843 by William Mathesen and the buildings were previously a brewery. The original name was Morangie before becoming Glenmorangie in 1887. It is currently owned by drinks company Moet Hennessy. Glenmorangie's range is extensive and covers different ages and cask finishes. The distillery tour is also excellent and we can recommend it. Their 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.
Scotland's tallest stills
Glenmorangie is one of Scotland's largest whisky distilleries and has a production capacity of six million litres per year. They also have the tallest set of stills of any distillery in Scotland with each one standing over 5 metres (16.5 feet) tall. The still room resembles a cathedral with the tall stills accentuated by equally tall windows. The current stills are direct replicas of the originals (these were bought from a gin distillery in London, which explains why they are different to other traditional whisky stills). This extra height means that only the purest and lightest spirit reaches the condenser and gets collected for maturation.
Our tasting notes
The whisky has spent around 15 years in bourbon casks and the further three years in Oloroso sherry casks. The colour is a vibrant gold and the nose is clean, fresh and tempting. There is an instant tropical fruit aroma (think of mango, papaya and pineapple) that is quite unlike anything that we have experienced before. This is backed up by plenty of oaky vanilla, malty cereal grains, brown sugar and a hint of citrus (especially lemon zest). On the palate, this feels rich and sweet but somehow remains fresh. The intense and unusual tropical notes are again prominent and mix beautifully with a complex combination of other notes - dried fruits (imagine sultanas and a touch of candied orange peel), nuts (hazelnuts and coconut), caramel, honey, vanilla and some zesty citrus (think of lemons and maybe grapefruit). The finish is long, complex and refreshing - it begins with the sweet caramel and tropical fruit notes (especially mango) before turning drier with a nutty and spicy (think of nutmeg) coming through. Absolutely lovely.
What's the verdict?
This Glenmorangie 18 years old is marketed and packaged as Extremely Rare and forms part of the core range, albeit as a limited release. It has received a packaging re-vamp in 2009 and should cost between £80-85 for a bottle. This is a delicious whisky that combines fresh aromas and flavours with a clean, refreshing nature. The tropical fruit notes are both very pleasant and surprising, as we have never tasted this characteristic to this extent in a whisky. An absolutely cracking dram. We thank Annabel Meikle from Glenmorangie for the opportunity to sample this.