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Archive for the ‘Glenmorangie’ Category

Introduction

Gift pack box

Gift pack box

I love sample-sized whisky bottles. As a whisky enthusiast, there are a LOT of distilleries to become familiar with, and only so much money in the ‘ol bank account (and room in the cupboard). Glenmorangie offers “The Glenmorangie Collection” gift pack, which contains four 100 ml bottles:

  • The Original – Glenmorangie’s signature expression, aged 10 years and bottled at 43% for the U.S. market (and apparently 40% in the UK). It’s aged in ex-bourbon casks.
  • The Lasanta – After 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, The Lasanta is aged an additional 2 years in Oloroso Sherry casks.
  • The Quinta Ruban – Like The Lasanta, this 12 year old spends the first 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, but it’s then transferred to Ruby Port pipes for the final two years.
  • The Nectar D’or – The final “extra matured” expression. This one is finished in Sauternes wine barriques.

The 100 ml bottle size is nice, as it allows several tasting sessions in order to get a really good feel for what each expression is all about. This gift pack sells locally for $47. Obviously, this is a higher per-ml price for the whisky, but I was happy to pay the equivalent of a medium-priced whisky bottle in order to try all four of these expressions.

Packaging

The Glenmorangie Collection

The Glenmorangie Collection

The presentation for this gift pack is very impressive. They’ve recently repackaged this set with design cues taken from the ultra premium Signet packaging. In addition to the beautiful box and nice looking bottles, a fancy booklet is included that explains the maturation process for each expression, and provides tasting notes. Well done!

Tasting Notes

Four poured Glenmorangies

Four poured Glenmorangies

The Original 10 years (43%)

Light, fresh nose with citrus and floral notes standing out (like orange blossoms). Also a fair amount of vanilla, and maybe a hint of wood. The mouth stays light and fruity, and adds maltiness. The malt remains on the medium finish, along with a reminder of the orange blossoms.

The Lasanta (46%)

A definite sherry influence in the form of dried fruits. The sherry seems to do battle on the nose with the light citrus/floral notes from the original. It brought to mind musty carpet for some reason. The mouth is pretty nice, actually, with a little more body than the The Original. Then the sherry and bourbon are back to doing battle on the finish. I find it a bit disconcerting.

The Quinta Ruban (46%)

This is different. The citrus and floral notes are toned way down, and out comes a strong chocolate scent. Actually, the orange is still there, but balanced nicely with the chocolate. The mouth is pleasant and malty like The Original. On the finish…chocolate malt. What a great dessert drink.

The Nectar D’or (46%)

The least finished feeling of the three extra matured expressions. D’or is a natural extension of The Original, with the orange blossoms toned down (maturity?), and the vanilla coming through stronger and richer, with added cinnamon and nutmeg. Very seductive! The palate seems spicier than any of the others, with the finish remaining spicy and bringing out a hint of the chocolate from The Quinta Ruban. An even better dessert malt?

Conclusion

If you’re not already familiar with all four of these Glenmorangie expressions, I can highly recommend this gift pack. It looks good, has a nice booklet on the malts, and gives you a chance to try the whole line without committing big money and cupboard space.

As for my impression of the whiskies themselves, I really like the The Original. I would put it on fairly equal footing with Bunnahabhain 12 year in terms of overall enjoyment. The Glenmo Original is probably a bit more complex than the Bunna. When in the mood for a light, malty whisky, I would turn to the Bunna for cinnamon apples, and the Glenmo when in the mood for orange blossoms. Getting into the finished expressions (sorry, “extra matured“), I would put Nectar D’or at the top, Quinta Ruban right below that, and Lasanta several notches down.

I don’t like to do full ratings until I’ve had a chance to try a whisky a number of times. However, I’ll throw out some preliminary ratings of 80-ish/100 for Lasanta, 84 for The Original, 85/86 for Quinta Ruban, and 87/88 for Nectar D’or.

Other opinions

  • WHISKYFUN by Serge – Separate reviews of The Original and the Extra Matured expressions. Nectar D’or comes out on top here with a similar rating of 86. However, the other expressions are rated much lower than I felt they deserved. Serge especially differs from me when it comes to The Quinta Ruban.
  • Malt Advocate (review archives) – Wow, John Hansell really likes The Original, giving it 93 points! Nectar D’or gets a respectable 89. Lasanta doesn’t do as well, with 79 points.
  • whisky-pages – Gavin and Tom seem to like all four expressions, with The Original and The Quinta Ruban rated a little better than the other two.
  • caskstrength.net - [Added 10/6/09] I missed this review the first time around. Thanks for the heads up, Joel. A great overview of these Glenmorangies, plus the 25 year. They enjoy the original and seem equally puzzled by the Lasanta, but are a little less enthusiastic about the D’or than I am.

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Tonight, a couple of friends and I traveled 50 miles to a Glenmorangie and Ardbeg tasting. My neighbor’s wife was nice enough to drive us, although when we signed up, we thought the Sportsman’s Fine Wines and Spirits where it was held was located about 15 miles closer. I’m glad we didn’t realize that until today, as we probably wouldn’t have signed up, but it was totally worth it (easy for me to say, having hitched a ride). For $35, we got a cocktail, some snacks, a dram of the 7 whiskies listed below, a Reidel “O” glass, and special pricing on the whiskies in the tasting. I believe there were around 25-30 participants.

Glenmorangie/Ardbeg tasting matt

Glenmorangie/Ardbeg tasting matt

They started us out with a cocktail, which I believe they called the Smoky Peach. I can’t remember the specifics (I’ll have to email them and find out), but it contained Ardbeg 10 along with either peach bitters and cognac, or some other kind of bitters and “peach cognac” [is there such a thing?]. Anyway, it was much more tasty than I expected, and I’d like to try it on some non-whisky drinking friends sometime.

Update – I got the details:

Smoky Peach

  • 2 parts Navan vanilla cognac
  • 1 part Ardbeg 10
  • a dash of peach bitters
  • served on the rocks.

Next, we went through the following whiskies:

  1. Glenmorangie 10 year (40%) – Lightly sweet with orange blossoms. Perfectly nice, but doesn’t move me.
  2. Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (46%) – This one surprised me. A little time in port casks really made a difference over the 10 year. Richer. The port really comes through on the nose. I got some enjoyable spiciness sticking on the tongue through the finish. I like it a lot…it’s on my list to buy.
  3. Glenmorangie Signet (46%) - This I enjoyed a lot. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but I tasted the elements of dark chocolate the organizers described. Usually I don’t sense chocolate in whiskies where other people do. I would love to buy some of this…at half the going price. The packaging is really sexy, though.
  4. Glenmorangie Astar (57.1%) – This was a big hit tonight. Lame pun alert…as this starts showing up in more tastings, expect to hear about how it was the “star” of the show. Yuck…that hurt to write. Anyway, this was supposedly the first time this was made available in Arizona, and there was a mad rush at the end to grab the available 15 or so bottles. To me, it was just a more potent 10 year old (although, admittedly a VERY drinkable cask strength).
  5. Ardbeg 10 year (46%) - This is a great value relative to the other Ardbegs in this tasting, which cost over twice as much as the 10 here in Arizona. It’s hard to go wrong with this one, and I have an open bottle in my cabinet.
  6. Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist (46%;1990 vintage) – While the Quinta Ruban surprised me in a positive way, I was actually a little let down by Nam Beist. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very enjoyable drink. All Ardbeg, but a little mellower and more creamy than the 10. It does have a long, long finish though. I guess what disappointed me was that it wasn’t “beastly”…it was the tamest of the three. Of course, it IS the oldest, but that name gets you thinking it’s going to be all kinds of crazy. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this at $75-$85 a bottle (relative to the $55-$60 the 10 goes for), but Nam Beist is going for around $140 here in AZ. That disparity with the price of the 10 doesn’t work for me.
  7. Ardbeg Uigeadail (54.2%) - Mmmmmmm. That sherry influence really works with the peat, although the sherry isn’t nearly as strong as it is in the Lagavulin DE. What a nose on this one! I took advantage of the discount price and bought a bottle.

This was a great time and well run. The three of us that went together gave it a big thumbs up, and it was nice to meet Sean from the Whisky Magazine forums. Sean said the Sportsman’s Scottsdale location (much closer for me) is going to do a Signatory tasting sometime. I want to be there.

Tasting some tasty scotch

Pretty decent turn out for the tasting

Pretty decent turn out for the tasting

Nice place (Sportsman's)

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