The name of Glenmorangie is one of the most famous in the world of whisky. The distillery is located in the Highland town of Tain and is approximately 40 miles (65km) north of Inverness. The distillery was founded in 1843 by William Matheson and is now one of Scotland’s largest whisky distilleries with an increased annual production capacity of six million litres, following the recent addition of two new stills. The stills at Glenmorangie are the tallest in Scotland at 5 metres (16.5 feet) high and make the still house resembles a cathedral. They are all exact replicas of the original stills that were purchased from a gin distillery in London in 1843. The current owners of Glenmorangie are the drinks giant LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), who took control in 2004.
Their single malts whiskies are multi award winning and are consistently in the top three for world sales. Glenmorangie Original is also the best selling single malt in Scotland. We have more information and history about Glenmorangie on its distillery profile page within our website, whiskyforeveryone.com.
The Finealta (pronounced fin-alta) is the newest release in the current Glenmorangie single malt range. It was first released in Autumn 2010 to be sold in the travel retail/Duty Free market but has just received a wider general release this January. Finealta is the second release in Glenmorangie's Private Editions range (the first being the Whisky For Everyone favourite that is the Sonnalta) and is a Glenmorangie with a difference - it is made using peated malted barley. The word 'finealta' means 'elegant' in Gaelic and this whisky has been inspired by an old recipe that was found in the distillery archives, dating back to 1903. At that time, peaty Highland whiskies were more common than now and the practice died out with the introduction of coal and steam as fuel sources for drying malted barley. The Finealta is bottled at an alcoholic strength of 46% ABV and has been matured in a combination of American oak and ex-Oloroso sherry casks. A bottle should cost £60-65 from whisky retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour of Finealta is a rich gold and the nose offers a splendid mix of aromas - think of vanilla, honey, dried tropical fruits (especially mango and pineapple), toasted/burnt almonds, malted barley grains and something biscuit-like that reminds us of shortbread. These aromas are complimented by some wood spice (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg) and a lovely, delicate peat smoke that has a subtle earthiness to it. On the palate there is an initial pleasant tangy quality that is reminiscent of orange/lime zest and white grapes, before some lovely rich, sweet barley notes kick in. This makes the whisky feel slightly thick in your mouth and it clings to the palate. Many of the characteristics from the nose are evident here also - plenty of honey and vanilla, the dried mango and pineapple, cinnamon and distant musty, earthy peat smoke. In addition, there are notes of toffee, spiced orange and charred/toasted oak that come through. Absolutely delicious! The finish is long with a lingering gentle bitterness. There is honey sweetness to begin with, plus a hint of dark chocolate, before the wood spices, toasted oak and a light smokiness (think of burning embers) give a drier edge.
What's the verdict?
This Finealta is very good. The whisky is clearly well crafted and is superbly balanced, with expressive sweetness and drier, lightly smoky notes working very well together. We are fans of most things Glenmorangie but this offers something different to their portfolio by being lightly peaty. Some may question the idea or the reasons for producing it, but it is a lovely whisky that compliments the rest of their single malt range and must be tried. It would be a good choice to introduce a beginner to the idea of the peat smoke aromas and flavours in whisky, as these elements are sympathetically reproduced in this dram.