A Night with Glen – Glenmorangie The Original 40%

Our “A Night with Glen” moved on from Glencadam and Glenlivet to Glemorangie…  With the Whisky Ladies starting with the base or standard 10 year “The Original“.

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Honey, spice, a nice woody note, apple cinnamon, black pepper, then some citrus fruits, vanilla
  • Palate – Smooth, rounded, creamy with enough spice to make it interesting
  • Finish – Spice, nice and lingers

We found it much more dynamic than the Glencadam or Glenlivet, with a much more interesting character.

Then we contrasted sipping it in the Norland vs Glencairn, we found in the Norlan it was even juicier and more defined, some found that they liked it even more.

And that’s just it, you know what you are going to get with Glenmorangie with The Original the base from which all expressions stem… there is a consistency to the quality. Yet it is mass produced, entry level but it is still more than just a decent dram.

Several shared The Original is a usual fixture in their homes… even confessing they have been known to have it on the rocks – shocker but with the heat all such admissions come out!

Here’s what the folks from Glenmorangie have to say (via The Whisky Exchange as the Glenmorangie website is currently restricted).

  • Aroma: Imagine yourself in an Italian garden surrounded with mandarin, lemon, apple, pear and peach trees, their fruit ripening in the sun. Add to this the scent of vanilla ice cream, then enjoy the herbal aromas of geranium and wild mint growing nearby.
    • Add water to The Original and you wander into a flower garden with lemony bergamot, apricot and mandarin. Floral notes of geranium, sweet honeysuckle and piquant narcissus mix with mint and the herbal essence of eucalyptus, nutmeg and ginger.
  • Taste: Savour the fruits of the Italian garden as creamy vanilla slips like liquid silk over the tongue as peaches and cream, mandarins and lemons effervesce in the mouth.
  • Aromatic essences of fennel and nutmeg tantalise with crumbly almond and coconut that gives way to a nectar that envelops all the fruit, spice and nut flavours in a honeyed caress.
  • Finish: The charming sweetness of delicious juices is left on the tongue.

Also from our Night With Glen:

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India’s greedy angels – an experiment

Have you ever wondered just how ‘greedy’ the angels are in a warm climate like Bombay?

One of our whisky tasting club members decided to do a little experiment. Only we had no idea!

We started with two whiskies… sampled blind with no further information. Here is what we found….

1st whisky “Citrus”

  • Nose – Lemon citrus, sweet, lightly organic, honey, fruit, banana, floral though not specifically distinct, bit of pale hay
  • Palate – Tangy citrus, a little sour bitter, cough syrup, linear with no spice
  • Finish – There and gone

A light, sweet start with subtle perfume notes… One member immediately recognized the whisky. Another dubbed it “White shirt, white pant”

2nd whisky “Wood”

  • Nose – Wood shavings, saw mill, varnish, a bourbon-y feel, pepper, mint steam, dry spices, sweet, an attic full of wood furniture or an antique store
  • Palate – Spice, black liquorice, pepper, very dry, quite sour, thin, astringent
  • Finish – Spice pepper

Not at all complex….


So what was the experiment exactly? Our host managed to get a hold of a new oak mini cask!

His plan was to see the affect of wood on whisky at quarterly intervals:

  • 0 Months – Into the cask went 2 Litres less a 250 ml sample
  • 3 Months – Remove approx 250 ml
  • 6 Months – Remove approx 250 ml
  • 12 Months – Bottle the balance, timed perfectly with hosting the October session

The control sample and 3 month sample went fine but then… by 6 months… nothing. Seriously – nothing! Not a drop!

So to answer the original question posed… just how greedy are the angels? Very verrrry greedy indeed!

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A very different Glenmorangie 10 year (1995/2006) Cask No 13038 59.3%

Known as the ‘Speakeasy’ bottle, this particular Glenmorangie 10 year can only be purchased at the distillery in the ‘Speakeasy’ room which revives the alleged early practice of the workers setting aside casks of the finest malt for their own consumption, hidden from the prying eyes of the ‘Guagers’.

In this case, our host hand-filled this bottle nearly a decade ago at the distillery!

Let me repeat that… yes our host waited nearly 10 years to open this special cask strength Glenmorangie.

They say patience is a virtue. And no way could I ever have been so virtuous to hold on for ten years…

Lucky us, we merely had to enjoy… and enjoy we did!

Speakeasy Glenmorangie 10 year

Speakeasy Glenmorangie 10 year

Glenmorangie 10 year (1995 / 9 Nov 2006) Cask No 13038, Bottle No 45, 59.3%

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Sherry! Citrus, honey, light cereals, vanilla, fresh yet toasted, a dash of perfume, more and more cinnamon. As it opened further out peeked banana cream and much more!
  • Palate – A gorgeous kick of character, lovely cinnamon, puff of smoke, a little oak, sawdust, kept shifting between sweet and spice and all things nice
  • Finish – Initially faint yet as the whisky opened further became a light sprightly spice then as it further evolved a long spicy cinnamon
  • Water – Not recommended. Dampened the complexity without bringing any significant advantage. Best had neat – all it needs is a little time to soften and settle into a very approachable yet sophisticated character.

What was particularly fabulous about this Glenmorangie is the shifts in character. It was like a book that slowly flipped to a new page, revealing something more as the evening unfolded.

While it started with a kick, it mellowed out completely, nice, smooth and well-rounded. The finish was another interesting element… at first light it grew into a very long beautiful finish.

It was my choice of the evening.

Glenmorangie Speakeasy

Another whisky afficianado shared:

On the 8th May, 2007 I bottled my own at the Glenmorangie Distillery. The cask No. 13038 which was filled in 1995. My bottle No. was 157 and and strength was 59.3%. 

I decided to keep it for a special occasion which was this week-end 30/9/12. Without doubt the best whiskey I have ever tasted and hope some day I can bottle another one.

Next up:

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Bombay Malt + Cigar – Bragging rights!

The latest edition of Mumbai based whisky sampling adventures has (un)officially been dubbed the BMC aka Bombay Malt & Cigar club (play on the ubiquitous Bombay Municipal Corporation)… and it is insane the levels these gents achieve.

Our 1st session featured ‘Adult’ whiskies… all 21 years or older.

Our 2nd session featured cask strength whiskies each personally filled by our host during various visits to Scotland between 2006 to 2011.

Are you kidding me?! How on earth are us mere mortals to top that???

Our host duly wins bragging rights for offering us three such unique whiskies.

What did we sample?

What on earth will top this for our next session?

Hand filled whisky

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Glenmorangie Evening with Dr Bill Lumsden

After the disappointing Jim Murray Amrut experience, what a joy to join the Glenmorangie event in Delhi at the Oberoi with Dr Bill Lumsden – Director Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stock. Bill’s irreverent humour, insights and knowledge alone was a draw…. throw in a couple good drams, quality food and great company – we have a winner!

The evening had three parts:

  • Sociable ‘cocktails’ (aka Glenmorangie’s The Original 10 year) with canapé
  • Formal 4 course dinner paired with Glenmorangie’s 10 year, 18 year, 25 year and Signet expressions
  • Poolside free-pour party

Pre-dinner networking

Never doubt the lure of free booze in India and the growing popularity of single malts!

The ballroom foyer set the tone with a long Glenmorangie bar, ever-present waiters dropping generous drams of whisky into empty hands, rounds of hors d’oeuvre so we didn’t perish until the main event…

Desultory conversations, multiple introductions revealed a mixed crowd of folks from around India – mostly Mumbai, Delhi with a smattering from Bangalore and beyond. It was also a mélange of industry professionals, passionate whisky aficionados, journalists and ‘men about town’. Aside from women involved with the event, the female quotient was decidedly rare.

Glenmorangie evening at The Oberoi, Delhi

Glenmorangie evening at The Oberoi, Delhi

Dinning delight

From the warm glow of the Glenmorangie centrepeice to the ornamental trademark giraffe gift for each guest, someone somewhere had fussed over the details. And why a giraffe you ask? Glenmorangie has adopted a giraffe as their stills have long copper necks and stand the same height as a fully grown adult giraffe!

Warning… what follows may make you hungry!

Setting the stage for a Glenmorangie food and whisky pairing

Setting the stage for a Glenmorangie food and whisky pairing

1st Course with Glenmorangie 10 year

Introducing the Glenmorangie The Original 10 year, Bill shared that he is often asked “Which is your favourite Glenmorangie whisky?” To which he joked it is like being asked “Which do you prefer – your son or your daughter?” However he did admit the Original is the whisky he drinks most often – either neat or in a cocktail.

The Glenmorangie staple whisky was paired with:

  • Grilled Peruvian asparagus and warm goat cheese salad, roast baby beetroot in honey mustard dressing
  • Yellow fin tuna carpaccio ‘Nicoise’ citrus emulsion, egg, kalamata olive tapenade, french beans

I opted for the tuna and while the citrus and whisky wasn’t a completely successful combination, the olive gave the dish and whisky a nice ‘punch’.

st course with Glenmorangie 10 year 'The Original'

1st course with Glenmorangie 10 year ‘The Original’

2nd Course with Glenmorangie 18 year

Bill then introduced the 18 year as the ‘Big Brother’ of The Original. He shared that the whisky spends 15 years in American Oak then finishes for 3 years in Olorosso Sherry casks and called it his “Channel No 5 of malt whisky.”

The whisky had a delightful nose with fruit, raisins, sweet mint and walnuts, balanced palate with a superb finish. It was paired with Parmesan cheese tortelli Himalayan morel consommé saffron cream.

Perfection! A pairing that enhanced both in a delightful dance of flavours – the whisky heightened the parmesan and cream whereas the tortelli added a chocolate dimension to the whisky. In short – delicious!

2nd course with Glenmorangie 18 year

2nd course with Glenmorangie 18 year

3rd Course with Glenmorangie 25 year 

By this point in the evening, Bill simply had to intervene to prevent the waiters from providing ice. There was no way the Glenmorangie 25 year would be served on the rocks!

While he admitted he is always tinkering with the recipe, was delighted with the recognition the 25 year received in 2012. Bill also suggested this is one whisky to enjoy with a cigar.

To go with the Glenmorangie 25 year, there were three options:

  • Lobster – Braised Cochin lobster with country cream, forest mushrooms, wild rice and ‘Glenmorangie Signet’ infusion
  • Lamb – New Zealand lamb chops with gratin potatoes, artichoke cream, micro greens with Port wine sauce
  • Vegetarians – For the vegetarians, there was artichoke, pok choy and zucchini ‘fritto misto’ with a lemon and rosemary potato cream, bell pepper coulis.

The 25 year has such a full-bodied robust whisky bursting with character that it required entrees with equal personality and pizzazz.

I tried the lobster and found myself wondering if cracked black-pepper would have enhanced the combination. From others around me, clearly the lamb was a complimentary pairing. While a vegetarian was just happy it wasn’t a typical pasta, not sure the pairing scored top marks.

3rd course with Glenmorangie 18 year

3rd course with Glenmorangie 25 year

4th Course with Glenmorangie Signet

For the last course, Bill reversed his ‘no ice’ stance and encouraged sampling the Signet chilled. The waiters enthusiastically defaulted to serving in this way.

Desert was a slow cooked Valhrona chocolate torte with a mocha sand, raspberry coulis and a side of minted vanilla ice cream. Signet had a liqueur like quality, like tiramisu, cinnamon, cloves, creamy like sweet butter, smooth with a chocolate coffee. As a combination – the minted ice cream was a refreshing contrast to the rich coffee smoothness of the Signet with the mocha sand adding a deeper note to the torte and whisky both. There was more than one moan of sheer unadulterated delight.

4th course with Glenmorangie Signet

4th course with Glenmorangie Signet

Post-dinner impressions

Informal polls on whisky preferences had surprising results. In most cases, gentlemen preferred the 10 or 18 year. One could argue that palates were pre-tuned to the 10 year as it was available in generous pours during the ‘cocktail’ hour. Additionally, the 18 year pairing was simply superb – one of the best I have sampled til date.

Whereas for me, it was a toss-up between the coffee complexity of the Signet and the depth and personality of the 25 year. The benefit of the poolside party was an opportunity to try both on their own and, more importantly for the Signet, without ice!

However, even with the chance to sample further, it is not the optimal way to form an understanding of a whisky’s character. Rather than ‘tasting notes’, I gained instead the memory of a thoroughly enjoyable evening, where the company and conversations were engaging with a rare opportunity to meet the innovator behind Glenmorangie and Ardbeg creations.

Glenmorangie Signet on ice

Glenmorangie Signet on ice

Though each whisky was appreciated… I wish I could have snagged the open 25 year and Signet for solo sampling or a quiet tasting evening at home with a very small set of friends to focus primarily on the whisky. I’m also partial to sipping from Glencairn or tulip glasses and not the Glenmorangie rounded tumblers.

However, if the goal of the evening was to whet the appetite for further interest in trying again – clearly they succeeded!

PS I was fortunate to interview Dr Bill Lumsden one-on-one for Man’s World magazine… stay tuned for more!

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