Glenmorangie has been distilling since 1843 in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland. While the distillery was family owned for most of its history, it has since been sold to the French conglomerate LVMH. The new owners have brought new design ideas to the company. I've got to say that their presentation is top-notch and the corporate website does an excellent job of conveying their story and providing some rather nice videos for tasting their original and extra-aged expression. The distillery's claim to fame comes from having the tallest stills in Scotland, which produce lighter bodied whiskies that are the most popular in Scotland. Staffed by the so-called "Sixteen Men of Tain", the distillery seems to manage a good balance between tradition and experimentation. Almost all of their whiskies are first aged in used bourbon barrels and their extra-aged expressions are then transferred to used wine casks to add another layer of flavor.
|Now that's what I call a good spread
Color: pale honey
Nose: malty, citrus - lemon and orange, vanilla, a hint of wine
Taste: creamy vanilla, malt, chocolate oranges, honey
Finish: medium, pleasant but trending towards bitterness
Overall this is a seriously solid dram. It's extremely well priced for a single malt, going for as little as $30. There's absolutely nothing bad that I can say about it, other than wishing that the flavors were just a bit more bold. Especially when my palate isn't quite as clear, the flavors tend to seem less robust and the cacao notes are replaced by green apples. I'd stick to drinking this before rather than after a meal.
Glenmorangie Lasanta - 46%
Nose: sherried wood, vanilla, nougat, almond, slight wood char or burnt sugar smell evolving with time and water
Taste: sherry, creamy sweetness
Finish: short with just a bit of burn
This whisky makes me think of 3 Musketeers bars. I've tried a few other sherried whiskies that really didn't do much for me. This was a much more enjoyable expression. There is clear sherry flavors in both the nose and taste, but it doesn't dominate the underlying characteristics of the whisky. This is a very delicious and more-ish dram.
Color: rose gold
Nose: toasted almonds, nougat, brown sugar, falernum(?), chocolate, hints of wine and peaches, developing blackberries and raisins with a bit of water
Taste: port wine, chocolate
Finish: lingering port wine and vanilla
There are a lot of similarities between the Quinta Ruban and Lasanta expressions, though I felt like the port wine influence was just a tad less strong than the sherry. While the nose of the Lasanta is a bit more robust, the finish on the Quinta Ruban helps its overall experience. Ultimately I'd have a very hard time deciding between these two.
Nose: burnt sugar, wood, wine-y sweetness, hints of citrus, fruit preserves that shifts towards wood char and nougat with water
Taste: light, chocolate, honey, orange
Finish: slightly bitter, cacao?
I felt like the wine influence was less directly apparent with this expression, instead beefing up the intrinsic qualities of the Original and layering on more barrel flavor. I didn't find this to be as explosively sweet as other reviewers have, but it is smoother than the Original which might let that aspect shine a little bit more clearly.
Overall, I don't think you can go wrong with any one of these whiskies. As I noted above, the Original is an incredible value and a great whisky for the scotch novice or those who prefer lighter Speyside malts. The Lasanta and Quinta Ruban expressions are usually less than $10 over the basic 10-Year, so it's easy to upgrade. At least for me, the Nectar d'Or is a little harder to justify as it's usually up in the $60-70 range. I'll probably add it to my collection one of these days when I have some extra cash, but the port and sherry cask expressions are in the must-buy category.