BLOG: Glenmorangie Original / 18 Years Old Extremely Rare

The combined wisdom of the world’s film critics would argue there isn’t much to thank the sword-swishing fantasy movie Highlander (1986) for, but for a future whisky drinker, one particular bar scene taught me a valuable lesson in how to correctly pronounce Glenmorangie. Descend heavily onto the ‘Mor’ and let the ‘Angie’ trail off like a smooth malt finish, if you don’t want to fall foul of one of whisky’s most deceptive pronunciation traps (let’s not even mention Auchroisk…).

It occurred to me recently during a repeat viewing of Highlander, stubbornly enjoying Christopher Lambert’s unique interpretation of the Scottish and indeed every other accent, that although I enjoyed correctly pronouncing Glenmorangie, I had very little experience of drinking it.

So, I’ve lined up two drams from the famous Tain distillery. The Glenmorangie Original carries a 10 year old age statement and retails in most supermarkets and even the odd petrol station for around £30.  The 18 Year Old expression, labelled as “extremely rare” which would make any whisky drinker fear for their bank balance, actually costs just under £90 and spends the last three years of its life in the barrel in Oloroso Sherry casks.

Glenmorangie Original

One thing the Glenmorangie Distillery is known for is its tall stills (5 metres / 16.5 feet in height), allowing the lightest particles to win the race to the condenser, leaving the oily and heavy flavours wheezing and spluttering behind. This distillation method is designed to produce a lighter, floral whisky.

Nose: A real fruit salad of notes with a hint of spice

Palate: Sweet and creamy, with a little edge. I’m instantly reminded of moreish/sickly Highland Toffee bars from my school days.

Finish: Trails off nicely with a bit more warm citrus and toffee

OVERALL: Lots to like with this dram for the price. It’s no mystery why it continues to be one of the world’s best selling single malts.

 

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The real Original!

Glenmorangie 18 Year Old Extremely Rare

Given that Glenmorangie also produces 25-, 28- and 34- and even 41-year old expressions, I’m not terribly sold on the superlative rarity in which this 18-year old whisky is presented but never one to blame the distiller for the marketer’s folly, I’ll plough on with an open mind.

Nose: Darker fruits, oily and fragrant, a little citrus

Palate: Very sweet and floral, spiced figs and a swinging barrel-stave to the face of rich oak

Finish: Long and sweet, menthol and a few shavings of lemon zest

OVERALL: Doesn’t quite match up to some notable sherried Speysides but then again, it’s not trying to.  This is a pleasingly complex and rewarding dram.

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Extremely rare…and soon to be one dram rarer

Now That’s What I Call…Glenmorangie

Not many whisky distilleries can lay claim to having an entire album of music written about them and after conducting exhaustive research (well, 5 or 10 minutes on Google…), I can confirm that Glenmorangie are alone in having such an honour bestowed upon them.

Jazz guitarist, Allan Holdsworth released The Sixteen Men of Tain in 2000, a reference to the staff of sixteen workers who undertook the distillation process at Glenmorangie Distillery until some new hires took the team up to a staff of 24 in 2008 (now simply referred to as ‘The Men of Tain’).  While certainly quite a dense and challenging record, I found a couple tracks went rather nicely in the background with my drams.

What are your thoughts on Glenmorangie? Do you know of any other songs or albums written specifically for or about a particular brand of whisky? Have you had enough modal guitar jazz for a lifetime after sampling the record above? Get in touch on Twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to our regular podcast episodes.

– Andy

PODCAST: S2E6 – Oban Distiller’s Edition

We’ve all been there. Maybe you were cooking up a world-class menu in the kitchen, or applying the finishing touches to a watercolour masterpiece. Perhaps you were agonising over the paintwork design on that vintage motorbike you restored or sanding another surface layer off that handmade pinewood table. At some point we’ve all turned our hand to a craft and sooner or later, we have to ask ourselves the inevitable question – is it finished now? Will another twist here, a dab there or a sprig of that turn something good into something great?

This is principally the dilemma which Andy and Stu grapple with in this episode of the podcast. Firstly, with a look at the Distiller’s Edition release from Oban Distillery, one of Diageo’s Classic Malts of Scotland range treated to an extended curtain call in a Montilla Finowine cask. The second, more personal dilemma, was whether or not to attempt the counterintuitive, some might say sacrilegious combination of Lagavulin 16 and Coca Cola, as recommended in The Whisky Manual by eminent whisky writer, Dave Broom.

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Spin the bottle?

First, The Oban. Diageo’s maturation expert, Jim Beveridge explained the philosophy behind the Distillers Edition range to Gavin Smith at Whisky Pages back in 2006.

“The critical thing is the flavour of the Classic Malts. We must remain true to their core character. For example, you always recognise Distillers Edition Oban as Oban. It still has the classic Oban flavour. This is the main driver behind the choice of casks we use, and each whisky has an optimum time to be in the secondary cask. 

We use a full-bodied Pedro Ximinez sherry cask for Lagavulin, but there’s no way you’d want to use that for Oban, for example. It’s not about the discernible sherry but about the overall impact. We use more powerful sherries for more powerful whiskies such as Lagavulin and Talisker. It’s about matching the flavours in the sherry to the whisky. The Distillers Editions win lots of prizes, so we do seem to be getting it right!”

To find out what Andy and Stu have to say in full about Oban Distiller’s Edition, Lagavulin & Coke and much more, have a listen to the podcast:

Also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Acast.

For the playlist Andy and Stu selected tracks from a range of “limited edition” records, albums where a little something extra has been added to the basic product, whether its a new mix, some gimmicky packaging or a restricted print run. The selections include songs that were re-worked to appease an angry internet, intimate live versions, songs that were also computer games and songs that were blasted into space.  You can listen to the playlist here:

Also on the podcast, an exclusive taste test of iheartwhisky‘s magnificent Caol Ila fudge. We also subjected ourselves to a challenging “blind” Relegation Zone dram sent to us with kind generosity by No Nonsense Whisky.

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Caol Ila fudge by iheartwhisky

Thanks very much to Sarah (@iheartwhisky) for producing such excellent whisky fudge and Vin (@NNWhisky) for supplying the Relegation Zone dram. Please do like and subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to listen, get in touch with Andy and Stu on Twitter and follow the playlists on Spotify.

BLOG: A very Japanese Christmas…

Cobbled together by Stu

I was lucky enough to be treated by my lovely* wife to one of the drinks by the dram advent calendars in the run up to Christmas 2016… and even luckier that it was the Japanese version, giving me a great opportunity to try a lot of drams from an whisky producing area I was becoming more and more interested (and obsessed!) by.

*The adjective is used purely in the hope of this treat being repeated later this year. Just don’t tell her I said that…

As I tried each dram I took some very quick notes which I have reproduced below. I apologise they are not the most detailed but hopefully they will give you a flavour of what the dram offers if you were interested to try more.

I have also given a score out of 10 (and ordered them highest to lowest) to give some context of how much I liked it. These scores are purely subjective and are based on nothing other than my enjoyment of the dram on that particular day. As I’m sure you know, how much you enjoy a dram can vary widely from day to day depending on a number of factors, so this may have affected my enjoyment in some cases.

I was particularly taken with the Akashi 5 year sherried single cask dram. So much so I have since bought a bottle (still unopened)! If you can get your hands on one I highly recommend it, but they are not cheap and they are pretty hard to get hold of! You have been warned.

You’ll notice there are a few of dates missing. This if for a couple of reasons:

  • I already owned a bottle of a couple of the drams, Nikka from the Barrel (roughly a 9/10 on scale below), and Nikka Pure Malt Black (probably 8/10), both of which are review in depth on the Japanese episode of our podcast which you can find here… a must for any Japanese Whisky fan!
  • I also was lucky enough to try a Hibiki Suntory 17yr (roughly 9/10 on scale below) as part of this calendar – a dram I’d been keen to try for ages. Instead of included my brief thoughts here, I have a more detailed notes on that one here, along with the Hibiki 21 yr (this would be a 10/10!) that I managed to get hold of.

 

23rd Dec – Akashi 5 year single malt (abv 50%)

  • Nose: buttered toffee, chocolate, some cinnamon, almond/pistachio, sherry
  • Palate: Rich, cherry, sherry
  • Finish: Medium, warm, sweet

So rich and enjoyable! Nose to die for.

8.5/10

10th Dec – Nikka blended

  • Nose: Apple, toffee, cinnamon
  • Palate: musty wood, warm spice, honeyed apples
  • Finish: sweet, long

Good value dram – looking at the price

8/10

11th Dec – Hakushu Distiller’s reserve 

  • Nose: sharp, citrus, honey, aniseed, melon
  • Palate: honey and apples, melon
  • Finish: subtle smoke, warming oak, long , honey

8/10

4th Dec – Togouchi Kiwami

  • Nose: rich butter, Christmas cake
  • Palate: smooth, Apple, nutty
  • Finish: cherries, sweet cinnamon, almonds, praline

Nose and Finish far superior to Palate!
8/10

9th Dec – Tagouchi 18 year

  • Nose: Honey, slight citrus, syrup
  • Palate: peat & honey, blackberries
  • Finish: smoke & wood

7.5/10

1st Dec – Nikka 12 yr blend

  • Nose: warm and musty, toffee, rich, oak, nutmeg, butter
  • Palate: oaky and rich, slight orange
  • Finish: warm and medium, bit of spice

7.5/10

17th Dec – Yamazaki 12 year

  • Nose: sweet, honey, caramel, hint of honeycomb, apple, nutty
  • Palate: floral, smooth, thick, butter, fruity sharpness
  • Finish: sweet, butter, medium

7/10

21st Dec – Yoichi single malt

  • Nose: sugary apples, werthers originals, candy floss
  • Palate: sweet peat
  • Finish: subtle earthiness

7/10

24th Dec – Taketsuru 17 year Blend

  • Nose: apricots, toffee, citrus, honey
  • Palate: thick, smooth, oak toffee and nuts
  • Finish: medium, nutty, oaky

7/10

14th Dec – Miyagikyo single malt

  • Nose: chocolate, honey, orange, flowery, blackcurrents
  • Palate: rich, thick oil, almond, black pepper, spice
  • Finish: toffee, chocolate, warming, medium

7/10

6th Dec – Nikka pure malt White

  • Nose: light, fruity, cinnamon, blackcurrant
  • Palate: oak, sharp & smokey
  • Finish: loooong smoke

6.5/10

18th Dec – Mars Maltage Cosmo

  • Nose: light, apple juice, vanilla, butter
  • Palate: sweet, light, smooth, orange
  • Finish: buttery, fruits linger, cherries

6.5/10

2nd Dec – Hibiki Harmony

  • Nose: sweet toffee and butter. Some citrus
  • Palate: light and sweet, slight spice
  • Finish: short and woody

6.5/10

22nd Dec – Special Nikka revival limited edition

  • Nose: smooth rich toffee, caramel, some sharp citrus
  • Palate: warm, musty wood. Hints of peat, orange
  • Finish: sweeter notes, vanilla and slight smoke

6.5/10

20th Dec – Nikka Coffey Malt

  • Nose: sweet, chocolate orange, marzipan
  • Palate: dryer than the nose, citrus, paint, red wine, raisins
  • Finish: subtle and biscuity

Palate lets down an interesting nose. Was really looking forward to this but not as good as expected. Perhaps the score reflects my disappointment!
6/10

5th Dec – nikka taketsura pure malt

  • Nose- fruity, citrus, toffee, butter
  • Palate – dry, bitter, smoke
  • Finish – warm, leathery

Palate v different (and a bit of a let down) after impressive nose.
6/10

16th Dec – Togouchi premium blended

  • Nose: butter, flowery, herby
  • Palate: chocolate orange, smooth butter, corn, herbs
  • Finish: medium and sharp

6/10

15th Dec – Okayama single malt

  • Nose: apple, stewed plums, sharpness
  • Palate: marzipan, caramel, pepper, biscuits
  • Finish: red wine

6/10

3rd Dec- Akashi White Oak blended

  • Nose: apples, vanilla, sake,
  • Palate: nutty, cereals and pepper
  • Finish: short and smooth

5.5/10

12th Dec – Nikka pure malt Red

  • Nose: subtle sherry and oak, sharp fruits, slight cinnamon and butter
  • Palate: fruity, sharp
  • Finish: sweet heat

Expected more from this – suspect I may like it more one a different occasion

5/10

13th Dec – Nikka Coffey Grain

  • Nose: solvent pens, citrus, grapefruit with sugar on
  • Palate: sweet honey, toffee, grapefruit, bourbon esq
  • Finish: dry, sweet

I can see why some would like this. But just not to my taste. Quite like a bourbon though so I think bourbon drinkers would enjoy it

5/10