...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Glenmorangie 15 year old (bottled in 2005)

A certain portion of the whisky-buying populace takes an abundance of photos of purchased whisky bottles, then peppers social media platforms with evidence of conspicuous consumption.

I have the opposite problem. Often, I take no photos of a purchased bottle. When I finish the whisky and dispose of its vessel I then have NO PICTURES for the damned review blog posts. Like today's.

One afternoon, 5 years ago, I came upon a corner liquor store in Los Angeles Proper with at least three bottles of the now defunct Glenmorangie 15 for its original price. I've always tried not to be the sort of asshole who cleans out a dusty find, so I bought one bottle.

The 15 year old (without a silly name) was retired in 2007 when Glenmorangie's owners, LVMH, chose to revamp the current range and sexify the remaining expressions. Now, before we go all "Ahhh, how Glenmorangie used to be!", remember the 15 spent an unspecified amount of time being finished in "NEW OAK" (all caps courtesy of the bottle's tube). So yes, Mr. Bill was going Full Carpenter at an early age.

Anyway, I found this to be a fair whisky when I drank it leisurely. Let's see how it reviews...

Distillery: Glenmorangie
Ownership: Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy (accents and umlauts still not included)
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Age: at least 15 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks then a "NEW OAK" finish
Bottling date: 2005 (code: L5 023)
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chill-filtered? ???
Colorant added? ???

Its nose is light and pretty. Roses, lychees and peaches. Hibiscus tea. Pencil shavings and envelope glue. There's also musty dunnage whiff here and there. It picks up much more vanilla with time, as well as a slight cherry candy note.

The palate begins with the nose's gentle fruitiness. And that moment of funky cask. But back to the fruits: acidic citrus and peach candy. It all gets tarter with time. Meanwhile, there are also hints of pepper, grass and cardboard. Moderate sweetness and a touch of woody bitterness.

The warm finish has flowers and tart apples. More tangy than bitter. Black pepper and a wee bit of wort.

I liked this better when I was consuming it casually. Once the inspection began, it didn't hold up as well, especially next to the 18 year old. While it shares the 18's gentleness and fruits, the 15's wood speaks much louder here than the elder's sherry casks.

Taking the current Scotch scene into consideration, this whisky would probably be an utter sawdust and vanilla bomb if produced in 2018, so I'm not that sad this expression was retired. Still, it's fun and it provides a different whisky experience than the 10 and 18. And perhaps it's more of a drinker than a thinker.

Availability - Happy hunting!
Pricing - dunno, but I bought mine for $65 five years ago
Rating - 83


  1. It's interesting that a lot of 15 year old expressions are the odd one out in a distillery line-up. Glenlivet has a French oak finished one, Glenfiddich's is a solera cask, Highland Park's had a higher percentage of American oak ex-sherry casks, and Bowmore's is a sherry cask finish.

    1. It's between their entry-level 10 or 12 year old and the "I want to buy something fancy as a present" 18 year old that demands more predictability, which makes the 15 year olds the perfect age for (a little) experimentation.

    2. I also forgot to add Balvenie's single barrels at 12 and 15 since the rest of the line are otherwise cask finishes. Though oddly, Balvenie is one of the few distilleries without a regular 18 year old. Sadly 15 years appears to be easy to cut when the distillery needs to rebuild their aged stocks since Glenmorangie and Highland Park have dropped them from their line-ups.

  2. I didn't know about the virgin oak finish, but that perfectly explains why I found it over-oaked for a Glenmo. Shame it couldn't have been the 10 Year/Original with more refinement and complexity, but that's Bill Lumsden for you.