Normal service is resumed today with an actual whisky review. Not only that but one from the mainland of Scotland for a change as well. This seasonal special release from the Glenmorangie distillery is a Christmas dram if ever I saw one. However, is it good enough now the Christmas tree is packed up and Jools’ Annual Hootenanny is all just a distant memory.
The Glenmorangie distillery was founded in 1843 and is located in small town of Tain in Ross-shire.
The distillery was created when the new owner of the farm converted a brewery on the site into a distillery. In 1918 the distilleries main customer bought the whole place and kept full ownership for another 90 years.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s production was increased significantly. The number of stills was increased to four and eventually twelve by 2009. In the 1980’s the big concern was a reliable source of water to drive the production targets. The risk came from local builders developing the land around the distillery into houses which would limit the rain water which leads into the springs which in turn are used to make whisky. To solve the problem they simply bought up all the land within a six kilometre radius of the distillery and stopping any building taking place.
Today, the owner of Glenmorangie is Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton who paid £300 million to the MacDonald family for the privilege. The major fashion house pushed the brand up market with attractive modern bottles, exciting labels and a dazzling array of new (expensive) finishes, special releases and halo products.
When we talk about the character of Glenmorangie we talk of the mellow refined character. That characteristic comes from the stills being the tallest in scotch whisky production. Standing at eight metres tall they are only marginally taller than those at Bruichladdich.
That spirit character comes in part from this height. The height of the neck of the still means more spirit vapours condense before they can reach the lyne arm and exit the still. This means they are further refined from distillation and only lighter compounds make it out of the distillation process.
Today Glenmorangie has a 6% share of the single malt market and bottles around 6 million bottles a year. The entry level bottles you will find in any supermarket but the most expensive bottlings will be found in glass display cases in airports around the world.
This review is on one of the drams you will find in any supermarket in the UK in the run up to Christmas. I managed to pick this up in a sale for a cool £25 however Master of Malt have it listed at the exceptional price of £49.95 here.
Dr Bill Lumsden is the master blender for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg releases and is on the record that Glenmorangie use a small amount of colouring and filtering in their releases but they hope to phase this out soon.
The midwinter dram is released at this time of year as a marketing tool to tie in with distillery traditional of handing out a special dram to the workers at Christmas. This bottle is a combination of Bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks which probably more sherry than bourbon. The dry Oloroso is what will give that dry spicy Christmas-y character to the whisky. Finally, it is bottled at 43% ABV and is in a standard highly attractive french themed bottle.
Colour – dark orange
Nose – oranges, spicy with lots of cinnamon
Palate – toffee with a pepperiness. chocolate oranges
Finish – drying on the finish following on the palate mostly
When I first opened the bottle well before Christmas I was quite disappointed in this one. When I saw the price and compared it to online pricing I was hoping for a real treat. A fifty pound experience for half the price. In reality I got my money’s worth. This is not a bad whisky but it is also not an exciting one. It fills a brief down to the letter but that is not what I am looking for. I am looking to be impressed and even surprised by my whisky.