Glenmorangie The Original

No fuss, classic comfort dram

I’ve been a whisky fan for a good few years now and therefore tasted a wide variety of different drams. When seeking out my next whisky I usually find myself drawn to something exciting: waiting with bated breath for the latest expression releases, trawling through dusty bottleshop shelves and auction websites for the old and obscure, and salivating over weird and wonderful forms of maturation with their promise of unique flavours (ginger beer barrels, IPA barrels, or tequila barrels anyone?) However, there is something to be said for those whiskies that are familiar and reliable, even though their novelty may have long since worn off. Those work-horse drams that may not be flashy but that stock the shelves of most every bar, introduce new drinkers to the pleasures of single malt and provide a comforting “daily drinker” for their fans.

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The Original from Glenmorangie’s core range is just such a whisky. It is a straightforward and simple whisky, ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive.

The Original is matured for ten years entirely in bourbon casks, specifically first and second fill American white oak ex-bourbon casks. The Glenmorangie house style is already light and clean and this easy-drinking nature is accentuated by the Original’s 40% ABV. Glenmorangie typically injects additional complexity into their whiskies through the process of double-maturation, finishing some of their bourbon-matured whiskies in barrels that held port, sauternes, sherry, etc, but the Original dispenses with this kind of fuss. The result is a soft and floral dram, perfect for drinking either neat or as the base for a cocktail.

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Nose: Immediate malt and cereal notes that open up into tart pears and crisp green apples.

Palate: The promise of the nose delivers on the palate. Cereal notes followed again by fruit, but this time with some fresh banana added. It also develops some sweet and creamy notes, think vanilla icecream and orange sherbet.

Finish: Gentle but a little short, with a mellow malt flavour.

Glenmorangie’s The Original will not blow your socks off, especially if you are well-versed in whisky. But not all whiskies need to do this and admittedly this is not what this particular whisky was designed to do. Instead, this whisky delivers on being approachable, easy to drink, and elegant in its simplicity. It may not be something new, bold or bizarre, but it is a reliable whisky to keep on hand. Sometimes the comforting lullaby of the familiar is a welcome distraction from the siren song of the new.

13/20

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Glenmorangie Astar

Glenmorangie’s Astar is a sweet, creamy dram perfect for a cold evening

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Glenmorangie has been owned by Moet-Hennessy since 2004 and is the fourth-most sold single malt in the world. The distillery is located in the northern Highlands and it never occurred to me that it was a coastal distillery. Unlike many other coastal distilleries, Glenmorangie never plays on the idea of it being a coastal whisky. The marketing doesn’t focus on seafarers tall-tales nor do the tasting notes say anything about casks in a warehouse being battered by the waves and imparting that maritime influence. However, it is very much a coastal- as evidenced from the fact you can almost feel the sea spray as you visit the distillery and when we were there we saw a seal cavorting just off-shore (for real!). The distillery is a beautiful place with narrow lanes, grey brick buildings and cherry-red painted doors. It has twelve stainless steel washbacks and six pairs of stills which they claim to be the tallest stills in Scotland. Apparently they are the height of a giraffe! Animal comparisons aside, the stillroom is truly an awe-inspiring sight and it also produces an awe-inspiring 6 million litres a year.

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The whopping Glenmorangie 8 metre stills with a 5.14 metre neck

There are a lot of different expressions in the Glenmorangie. The core range has consisted of the Original (10 year old), 18 year old and 25 year old, but the 25 year old has now been discontinued (although the tour guide hinted that it might comeback when the older stocks replenish in a few years). There are three different 12 year old expressions that begin maturation in bourbon barrels but are finished in different casks; the Quinta Ruban (port), Nectar D’Or (sauternes) and the Lasanta (sherry). These three are all crowd-pleasers. At my birthday party last year my supposedly ‘non-whisky-drinking’ friends drank the bar dry of the Quinta Ruban. I admit that it does go down quite easily! There is also the high-end core expression Signet (bottled with a satisfyingly weighty stopper) which is made using 20% chocolate malt. Finally, there is a myriad of travel-retail and annual Private Edition expressions, all with beautiful Gaelic names such as Sonnalta, Finealta, Artein, Ealanta, Companta, Tusail, Tayne, Duthac and my favourite Milsean. Phew that’s a lot! The dram that I am reviewing today is a slightly older Limited Edition release from 2008 called Astar.

astar

Astar means ‘journey’ in Gaelic. This dram certainly is a journey and the destination is delicious. It is bottled at 57.1% but is deceptively light considering the high ABV. I do not find it rough around the edges like some bottled at this strength. Matured in bourbon barrels made from slow-growing Missouri oak, it has all the rich and spicy bourbon characteristics that you would typically expect. The colour is a glowing golden hue.

Nose: Sweet over-ripe apricots and orange segments. Honeysuckle on a spring day. French caramels with sea salt flakes. Cinnamon warmth.

Palate: Orange sherbet from my childhood, moving into vanilla custard and crème brulee. Some pineapple, a little hint of mint freshness cutting through the sweet notes at the end.

Finish: A lovely lingering ginger warmth, and honey. Perfect for a cold evening.

I really enjoyed this dram, it is sweet and creamy. If you can still find a bottle somewhere then Astar is certainly one to get your hands on. But think twice about letting your ‘non-whisky-drinking’ friends join you for a dram though, they might drink you dry of it. 😉

16.5/20

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Wouldn’t it be nice to drive off into the sunset with a bottle of Astar and this honey!