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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Single Malt Report: Glenmorangie 10 year old "The Original"

The Glenmorangie Taste Off starts at the beginning.  The Original.  The 10 year.

The 10 year old was likely the first, or one of the first, single malts that Glenmorangie released.  Charlie McLean mentions in his Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History and Whiskypedia books that Glenmorangie had very small single malt releases in the late 1970s and didn't even advertise them until 1981.  One of the Malt Maniacs has rated a cream-labeled bottle from some time near 1975, while several other MMs have sampled a bottle from 1982.  Both of these bottles were 10-years.  So perhaps, a 10-year release was "the original" bottling.

The packaging itself has changed, going from a classic flat-sided vessel and rustic inscription to a unique curvy bottle with a more expensive-looking modern label.


That's Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy at work.  In theory the whisky stays the same but everything else  changes around it.  And that's a damn sexy bottle.

But I really like the old two-color plain-printed label in a regular ol' booze container.  But I'm old timey like that.

Did the whisky change?  A lot of the great whisky writers have said so.  Until I get my hands on the old stuff, all I can go is by memory of the less-old whisky.  Some time around 2005-2006, during the final days before the aesthetic makeover, I polished off a bottle of the 10-year.  Next to its fancy-finished cousins, it struck me as a bit plain, something I wouldn't mind splashing onto ice during a hot summer but that was about it.  So I didn't go back for a second bottle.

Since some theories say that our bodies go through a full cellular regeneration every seven years or so, then, yes, I have changed.  And even if that theory is crap, my experiences have changed my thought process, values, and tastes during that time.  So let's drink it again.


Distillery: Glenmorangie
Ownership: Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy (accents and umlauts not included)
Age: minimum 10 years
Maturation: first- and second-fill ex-Bourbon American oak casks
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

First, neatly --
Color-wise, it's where pale amber meets chardonnay.  My crummy phone pic to the left, almost does it justice.  The nose starts with cocoa for a split second then opens up into orange zest and tangerine oil.  Lots of it!  Then angel food cake and a touch of pine.  It grows more pungent with time.  The palate holds schooners full of vanilla.  Sweet lemon, tiramisu custard, golden raisins rolled in brown sugar.  It finishes with vanilla, vanilla, vanilla.  Then some pear juice, white frosting, and granulated sugar.

Yum.  That worked.

Then, with water (approx. 32.25% ABV) --
The nose shrinks a bit.  It's all Sunkist orange soda and vanilla extract.  The palate gets a little bready, a little vegetal.  But it's mostly malty and toffee sweet.  It finishes with a watered-down rum note, some nondescript citrus, and quite a bit of the toffee.

It mostly held together with the water, but the neat serving was where it's at.  I was genuinely shocked by how enjoyable it was.  It's a full step more enjoyable and noteworthy than most other beginner malts.

It's very light, so it would make for excellent spring and summer drinkin', even when neat.  I recently read that it can even be added to champagne to make a cocktail.  How one enjoys one's whisky is up to him or her, but, personally, if I mix anything with champagne, I end up pissing my pants and molesting the freezer before the night is over.  Or so I've been told.

So what I'm saying is, I found Glenmorangie 10yr to be a good value and an excellent Highland starter whisky.

 - Most liquor stores
Pricing - $27-$38
Rating - 87