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. 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. The distillery was founded in 1843 and was housed in old brewery buildings. It is one of Scotland’s largest whisky distilleries with an annual production capacity of six million litres.
The current stills at Glenmorangie are the tallest in Scotland at 5 metres (16.5 feet) high and make the still house resemble a cathedral. They are exact replicas of the original stills that were purchased from a gin distillery in London in 1843. In 2009, they installed two further stills to increase capacity and these were also modeled on the originals. Another unusual fact is that the water used in the production at Glenmorangie is hard. It is taken from the mineral rich Tarlogie Springs, which bubble up through the bedrock in the distillery grounds. Most distilleries use soft water, as this is thought to produce the best spirit.
The current owners are Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH) and they have embarked on research to find the wood to make casks that would perfectly compliment their whisky. They decided on white American oak and more specifically wood from the north facing slopes of the Ozark Mountains in the American state of Missouri. LVMH now owns and maintains a forest in this region and this is where the trees are grown and casks are made. They are then filled with bourbon and matured in Kentucky and once empty, shipped to the distillery. All stages are scientifically monitored to produce the best results in the final whisky.
Our tasting notes
This 25 years old is produced in small batches and appears under the name Quarter Century. The colour is a lovely golden yellow and the nose is vibrant, fragrant and tempting. This is fresh for something that is 25 years of age and the sort of whisky that you could sit and sniff all day! There is a lovely and complex combination of aromas - vanilla, honey, waxy furniture polish, nuts (think of walnuts), citrus fruit (imagine orange and lemon zest), peaches, something spicy (think of nutmeg) and a touch of acetone (this is reminiscent of nail varnish remover). On the palate, this is soft, silky and very complex with a distinct combination of oaky woodiness, honey and vanilla to begin with. Then the other elements come through - orange peel, peaches and apricots, walnuts (and maybe some almonds?), toffee, some spices (think of nutmeg and cloves) and gingerbread. The finish is long, dry and woody. It softens very well as time passes and vanilla, honey, nutmeg spice and zingy orange notes reveal themselves.
What's the verdict?
This Quarter Century is bottled at the alcoholic strength of 43% ABV and will cost around £250 a bottle from specialist alcohol retailers. It is a very good whisky that is enjoyable and full of complexity. The quality of the spirit and casking is evident but only you can decide if that quality is really worth paying the price. We thank Annabel Meikle from Glenmorangie for the chance to sample this excellent whisky.