If you have spent any time on a Scotch Whisky aisle in a store, chances are you have come across Glenmorangie more often than not. Glenmorangie is a single malt Scotch producer in the Highlands region of Scotland (which is the by far the largest Scotch region in terms of both geographical size and whisky production). And within that large Highlands region, Glenmorangie is said to be the best selling Single Malt in Scotland almost continuously since 1983.
Glenmorangie was founded in 1843 in the town of Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland, on the site of the Morangie brewery that had operated there since the 1730’s. In 1918, the distillery would be sold. Its then owners would retain control until 2004, when the company was sold to its current owner, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The distillery shut down several times during war and depression times.
Today, Glenmorangie has four core expressions – The Original (ex-bourbon casks), the Lasanta (ex-bourbon cask with Oloroso Sherry cask finish), the Quinta Ruban (white oak with ruby port cask finish) and the Nectar d’Or (Sauternes wine finish). Glenmorangie also produces what they call the “prestige expressions,” which include 18, 19 and 25 year age stated whiskies, and the Signet (more below). Additional vintage and private editions have been released over the past few years.
As to the Signet (meaning “small seal used instead of signature”), Glenmorangie elected not to include an age statement, but instead reference that it is a blend of the distillery’s whiskies dating back “over 30 years.” During that time period (more than 30 years ago), Glenmorangie, like many other distilleries, would have malted their own barley. Included in the Signet is Glenmorangie’s “chocolate malt” which is not commonly used in whisky production.
The Signet has won numerous awards, including the International Spirits Competition Gold Medal in 2017, and the International Whiskey Competition “Whiskey of the Year” in 2016.
Some time ago, members Lee Bullock, Jay Cary, Chris Crow, Stephen Netherton and I sat down to sample several of Glenmorangie’s offerings, including and especially the Signet. The occasion was special. Lee Bullock and his wife had just given birth to a beautiful daughter. Lee’s wife had commissioned Chris Crow and m to purchase a bottle for her to give Lee as a congratulatory present. We chose the Glenmorangie Signet, and Lee chose to share that pour with us. Cheers to Lee, Ashley and their beautiful baby, Amelia.
Glenmorangie – The Original (10 Year)
Nose: Citrusy, like a mandarin Cuties; salty seaside air; a hint of smoke; fresh cut grass.
Palate: Mellow; bitter orange citrus; lemon tart; oily.
Finish: Short and mellow, but pleasing; more bitter citrus.
“The Glenmorangie – The Original is one we would recommend when you can find it in the sub-$40 price range.”
Overall: Quite enjoyable, especially given the price range and the 10 year age statement. It is not overly complex. “Mellow” is a term used throughout, which may suggest bland to some, but also can suggest the lack of harshness. Overall, a good buy. The Glenmorangie – The Original is one we would recommend when you can find it in the sub-$40 price range (as can be found here in Wichita).
Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or (12 Year) (non-chill filtered)
Nose: Citrus; tropical fruit notes of kiwi and mango, in candy form; grain.
Palate: Sweet wine; honey; more citrus and tropical fruit; some light white pepper spice; musty and earthy (similar to the graininess of the nose but more defined).
Finish: Short; continued flavors from the palate, with a hint of smoke.
“Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or offers an interesting blend of characteristics . . .”
Overall: Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or offers an interesting blend of characteristics, influenced first by the grainy/earthy character of the whiskey, and second (and contrasted by) the sweet desert wine character of the wine cask finish. Overall, it is pretty delicate. But a nice dram nonetheless. At around $70 a bottle, it has its place on my shelf.
Glenmorangie Signet (NAS, but said to be over thirty years) (non-chill filtered)
Nose: Brown sugar and caramel sweetness, orange citrus notes and light spice, all of which are more commonly found in bourbon; musty; very enjoyable.
Palate: Caramel; sweet grain and corn notes again reminiscent of bourbon, this time most aptly described as Corn Pops cereal; allspice; excellent mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium-long; caramel; cranberry; there is certainly some age to the finish, with notes of cocoa and tobacco, but the sherry notes (cranberry) complement it well.
“Glenmorangie Signet is complex. Unique. Delicate yet robust. Finely aged yet not overly oaked.”
Overall: Excellent. This is one pour where mere descriptors of the individualized notes really can do no justice. Glenmorangie Signet is complex. Unique. Delicate yet robust. Finely aged yet not overly oaked. While it is expensive, this is one where I think you get your money’s worth. And while the presentation of a bottle shouldn’t be a factor in judging the quality of the spirit inside, Glenmorangie manages to pair overall stellar whisky with an equally impressive package.
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.