For this review I’ll be looking at the what is called ‘the best selling single malt in Scotland’ and happens to be Glenmorangie’s entry level whisky. The Original is a 10 year old single malt which moves away from the more popular trend of 12 year olds as distillery’s entry level malts go. It is my understanding that the Original is aged exclusively in first fill and second fill ex bourbon barrels and what Glenmorangie calls its artisan casks. Glenmorangie owns or has claim to a certain part of the Ozarks in Missouri where the company selects certain slow growth American white oak trees to be turned into their artisan casks. The casks or barrels are different from most in that they are air seasoned for two years instead of the more time saving artificial quick drying and the barrels are heavily toasted and only lightly charred. They are then loaned to bourbon makers to use for their product to age in and then are given back to Glenmorangie, who in turn use it to age their whisky. Now about 30-35% of the Glenmorangie Original spirit is aged in the artisan cask while the rest is aged in the industry standard first fill or second fill ex-bourbon barrels.
Well that all sounded well and good and while best selling sounds good on an advertisement does that necessarily mean best tasting, let’s find out.
Appearance: Light amber with slow moving legs
Nose: I’m picking up some nice toasted oak up front and those oh so familiar bourbon notes. There’s some nice vanilla, orange rind, honey and floral notes coming off this one. Some spice notes begin to appear as well like cinnamon, clove and faint hints of white peppercorn. Very little peat but just enough to add another layer of depth. I’m also getting some light caramel and maple syrup in the back. A delicate floral and sweet bouquet that is nicely enveloped in oak.
Palate: Right away I get some sweet vanilla custard and citrus fruits. There is also some caramel, orange liqueur and bitter fruit pith. It does get slightly bitter half way through. I’m getting some light hints of dark chocolate (>70% cocoa) and some lemon zest. Towards the back the oak and spices come into play peppering up the palate a bit. I’m trying to pin point but there seems to be some peat in there somewhere as well. Small and faint just a very fine layer of peat, which is a nice touch. The finish is moderate to long leaving behind notes of vanilla, grapefruit, wood spices, chili powder and toasted oak. The mouthfeel is slightly dry and medium in body.
Overall: A fine single malt scotch and again proof that when done right and with a quality new make spirit and high standard barrel selection a whisk(e)y doesn’t need to be old to be good. The level of balance is amazing for being a delicate spirit. The oak is present constantly but always mingling with the aromas and flavors never running off to do its own thing. Also the complexity it’s able to achieve in what is seen as a relatively low age (for Scotch) is something to be commended for. I can see now how this would be ‘the best selling single malt in Scotland’ affordable, balanced and enough character to keep you interested in what it has to say.
Overall: 90 / * * * *