Glenmorangie “The Original” Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review

Dr. Bill Lumsden is obsessed with wood.  Lumsden is head of distilling and whisky creation for the Glenmorangie Company, which owns the Ardbeg and Glenmorangie distilleries.  If you examine the range of Glenmorangie expressions, you get an idea of Lumsden’s fascination with how different barrels affect his whisky.  The distillery pioneered the idea of finishing whisky, which is a brief secondary maturation in a different type of barrel than used during the primary maturation.

Glenmorangie owns a forest in Missouri.  Casks made from this good ole’ American oak are leased to some American distilleries.  Heaven Hill is rumored to be one.  These American distilleries age their bourbon, then turn over the used barrels to Glenmorangie.

Glenmorangie 10yr

The youngest Glenmorangie whisky aged in these barrels is their 10-year-old expression: Glenmorangie The Original.  Most, if not all, of the rest of their expressions then go on to a brief secondary maturation in a variety of different casks, like the new Glenmorangie Milsean, which is finished in re-toasted ex-wine casks.

Glenmorangie The Original is the distillery’s simplest whisky expression.  Ten years in first and refill ex-bourbon casks.  That’s it.  But don’t let that simplicity fool you.  Glenmorangie’s stills, the tallest in Scotland, produce a light and floral spirit that, combined with meticulous wood management, lead to a sweet, complex whisky.  This expression is bottled at 43% abv.

Glenmorangie 10yr B

The nose is on the lighter side, but still maintains a richness about it with notes of light toffee, honeysuckle and vanilla.  Sweet malt provides a rich quality, while lemon rind adds some brightness.  Those last two aromas mentioned are the first flavors encountered on the entry.  The bourbon cask maturation adds a bit of sweet toffee and some vanilla bean, as well as a bit of well-integrated oak.  Then there’s light fruit and the not-quite-subtle floral character.  No flavor note outweighs another, giving us a beautifully balanced whisky.  The finish is full of honeyed malt.  It’s clean and doesn’t last too long.

This isn’t a “heavy” whisky.  Instead it’s a highly flavored, delicate whisky.  I can see why this is the best selling single malt whisky in Scotland.  Glenmorangie “The Original” is one to pull out for a friend who’s never tasted Scotch.  At the same time, it should please even experienced whisky drinkers.  Recommended!

(Note: A review sample was provided by Glenmorangie.)

The Macallan 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Review

Macallan 12

The Macallan has built a reputation synonymous with luxury and quality.  Older expressions are some the most valued whiskies among collectors.  It’s a Highland distillery that is generally known as a sherry bomb.  That’s because, with the exception of their Fine Oak line, all their whisky is aged in sherry casks.  Macallan claims it imports most of the sherry casks coming out of Spain.  It’s clear they take their wood selection seriously.

Macallan’s Sherry Oak line ranges from the base 12-year-old expression all the way to a pricy 30-year-old single malt.  Again, all the whiskies here are aged exclusively in ex-sherry casks.  It’s a style of whisky I tend to enjoy.

On the nose, the sherry cask influence can’t be clearer.  There’s an initial blast of dried fruit and a sweet sherry note, followed by some malted grain and a little toffee.  Entry on the palate is all toffee and soft vanilla, over a bed of sherried fruit and spice.  There’s a welcome touch of smoke.  It’s not a peaty smoke, more a wood smoke.  Just a touch.  Mulled wine ends the experience in a rich, slightly dry finish.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting a classic sherried whisky, I would suggest you start with this Macallan 12-year-old or Glenfarclas 12-year-old.  Macallan is generally more readily available.  What we have here is a rich, fruit-sweet and slightly spicy Highland single malt.  It’s priced a little higher than a standard 12-year-old Scotch at about $60.  I’d love to see it slightly cheaper, but I do enjoy what’s in the bottle.

(Note: A review sample was provided by Edrington Americas.)


Oban 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Review

Oban 14

Oban is a member of Diageo’s “Classic Malts” collection, representing the Highland region along with Dalwhinnie.  Bottled at 43% abv, Oban single malt is aged 14 years although other expressions exist, namely an 18 year version and the new non-age statement (NAS) Oban “Little Bay.”  This whisky hails from the town of Oban, located in the western Highland region of Scotland.  The Oban distillery isn’t named after the town.  Quite the opposite – the town was built around the Oban distillery.  That’s a neat story, but there’s good news and bad news here.  The good news is that this small distillery produces great whisky.  The bummer is there is no room for growth.  Because since the town was built around the distillery, there is physically no way the distillery can expand.  Oban was founded in 1794, making it one of the oldest whisky distillery around.  As mentioned earlier, Oban is on the west coast of Scotland, in the Highland region.  It’s placement next to the sea not only earned its nickname “Gateway to the Isles,” it also helps impart some of that maritime essence into its whisky.