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Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (12 Year Old Edition)

Review: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (12 Year Old) Single Malt Whisky  91.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted June 20, 2013

The Glenmorangie Distillery was officially licensed to produce whisky in 1843 (how long the distillery was unofficial is unknown to me). Glenmorangie, from the beginning, established a tradition of innovation beginning with the construction of tall gin styled stills which would be used to distill their whisky rather than the traditional shorter onion shaped stills in use at the time. They were also amongst the first distilleries to use American oak for maturing their whisky, and in the early 1990’s they were at the forefront of the new style of ‘extra matured’ whiskies which are finished (or perhaps we can say flavoured) by spending time in used wine barrels. (I suggest flavoured because these used wine barrels rarely impart any oak into the whisky, and the primary result of their use is to impart some of the previously held wine’s flavour into the whisky.)

The core range of Glenmorangie includes three of these unique extra matured whiskies, the La Santa, which is a Sherry finished whisky, the Nector D’or, which has a Sauternes wine finish, and the whisky which I am reviewing in this article, the Quinta Ruban, which has a Ruby Port Finish. The Quinta Ruban is a mature Glenmorangie (12 years old) that is first aged in ex bourbon casks for at least 10 years, and then finished or ‘extra matured’ in Ruby Port pipes from the Quintas of Portugal. The use of ruby Port pipes gives the Quinta Ruban a sweeter, fruitier flavour and finish.

Quinta RuIn the Bottle  5/5

I like the way the Scottish distillers package their Single Malt Whiskies. In the case of Glenmorangie, each of their extra matured whiskies arrives in a unique handsome cardboard box which protects the spirit and contains just enough information about the whisky to pique the interest the consumer. The bottle inside the display box has the attractive feminine curves of the Glenmorangie bottle, and a nice cork topper completes its presentation.

I note that there has been a recent change in the labeling of this whisky. The Quinta Ruban now carries a 12 year age statement. Previously (when I had reviewed the whisky four years ago) the whisky carried no age statement, and the only information I could find on the website was that the whisky had matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 10 years before being finished in Port pipes. I am unsure whether the whisky is now aged longer to bring the total aging time to 12 years, or whether the age has always been 12 years, but the current clarity of the age statement is appreciated.

(Note: the Quinta Ruban is bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume)

In the Glass  9/10

When I pour the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban into my glencairn glass, I notice that it displays a light to medium gold colour with some obvious rusty tones within the liquid as well. The initial aroma in the breezes is fruity, oak filled, and stained with chocolate. I notice zesty citrus notes in the air as well as impressions of maraschino cherry and dry fruit. Oak spices seem to lift from the glass giving me indications of orange peel, and spicy pepper. As the glass sits, walnuts, pecans and the light scent of baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg, with hints of cinnamon) are added to the breezes.

I like the overall aroma, and what I like the most, is that in spite of the obvious flavour enhancement due to the extra time in a Port pipe, the Glenmorangie, retains its identity as a single malt whisky, and does not come across as some sort of strange hybrid of whisky and wine.

In the Mouth 55/60

The first sip brings forward oak spices and luscious flavours of maraschino cherries dusted with chocolate. I taste light lemon and orange peel flavours within the oak spice accompanied by vanilla and a light touch of mint. The time in the Port pipe has given the whisky a vague smoky character similar to what we would find with a sherry cask whisky. However, I find the fresh fruitiness is more vibrant than I would find in a typical sherry cask whisky with more flavours of ripe fruit and red berries and less of dark dry fruit. The sweetness seems to be just about perfect, as it compliments the fruit and spice without becoming cloying.

As I noted, when I reviewed the spirit four years ago, I sense a real effort by the distillery to keep all of the nuances of the Port flavour enhancement in check not letting any particular aspect of the wine spoil the whisky character.

In the Throat  13/15

The whisky is medium bodied, and this gives the spirit a relatively long finish filled with flavours of oak spice and chocolate. The ending is just a touch dry and leaves a residual lightly bitter aftertaste in the mouth.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

I found the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 Year Old every bit as yummy today, as I had found it when I wrote my original review four years ago. In fact it seems to be improved with a richer and fuller flavour. Perhaps this is a reflection of the new 12-year age statement, or perhaps I have just grown in my ability to discern more when I taste whisky. Regardless, my score of 91.5/100 reflects the high esteem I have for this dram.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Cocktail:

SAM_0805 Scottish TigerThe Scottish Tiger
an Arctic Wolf Recipe

(The name of this cocktail is derived from the ribbons of yellow and orange citrus peel)

2 oz of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban
2 drops Angostura Bitters
A squeeze of lemon
1 tsp sugar syrup
2 oz of club soda
Ribbons of orange peel
Ribbons of lemon peel

Add the first four Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the sides frost
Strain into an ice filled rocks glass
Garnish with a few a ribbons each of orange and lemon peel


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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