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Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Old

Whisky Review Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 91.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 20, 2011

Glenmorangie was amongst the first Scottish distillers (1960s) to use ex bourbon barrels to age their whisky rather than Spanish oak (sherry casks). This helped to change the taste profile of Scottish Whisky in a significant manner, and today ex bourbon barrels are use extensively alongside ex sherry casks in many Scottish distilleries. Then, in 1996, Glenmorangie introduced their wood finish range which began the distillery’s experimentation with a range of new wood finishes like port wood casks and wine barriques. Again, the industry followed suit, and now wine finishes are used by many distilleries. Once again Glenmorangie can claim some of the credit for helping to extend the range of the Scottish whisky taste profile.

The whisky which is the subject of this review is Glenmorangie, The Original. I think what the fellows at the Glenmorangie distillery  mean by ‘The Original’ in not that this is the original malt made exactly as it was in 1843 when the Glenmorangie Distillery was established. What is meant is that this is the original bourbon finished Glenmorangie Single Malt which is aged for ten years and serves as the cornerstone of the Glenmorangie line-up.  My previously reviewed Glenmorangie, The Quinta Ruban and Glenmorangie, The Nectar D’or would first have been distilled and aged in the same manner as The Original, before they each received their exotic wood finish.

The Glenmorangie Website described The Original as follows:

“The original expression of our elegant, floral spirit and the real backbone of the Glenmorangie range. A ten-year-old single malt, Glenmorangie Original is produced by marrying the delicate spirit that emerges from Scotland’s tallest stills, with first and second fill American white oak casks.”

It will be interesting to see how this  ‘Original’ Glenmorangie Single malt compares to its exotic wood finished cousins.

Glen Morangie Orginal SAM_1711In the Bottle  5/5

As I stated in my previous reviews of the Glenmorangie line-up. The Glenmorangie distillery knows how to package an attractive product. They use elegant display boxes to pique the interest of the consumer. There is just enough information on the box to keep that interest growing, and inside the box the whisky is held in a sexy bottle with gentle curves and an attractive form. The bottles are closed with high density cork stoppers which give me that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when I open them.

In the Glass 9/10

I really like the aroma of this Glenmorangie. The whisky has wonderful floral and citrus elements that reach out of the glass and tickle the aroma receptors. The nose is strikingly delicate with light herbal tinges that seem to dance in the breezes. My imagination is stirred by thoughts of waving barley fields below a floral alpine meadow. Rising into the air is a gentle vanilla and fading tones of bourbon which seem to give the whisky a mouth-watering appeal. I admit to stealing a sip or two before I have finished nosing the glass.

In the Mouth 55/60

The nuances found on the nose continue into my mouth. Strands of thin oak and kernels of ripened barley give the dram an almost piny accent which reminds me of a fine delicately flavoured gin. Citrus flavours of lemon and lime clip at the edges of the palate, and a small dollop of vanilla compliments the flavours beautifully. Hints of Apricot Brandy and canned pears seem to add a light touch of smokiness. Everything is delicate and delicious with no single flavour daring to dominate else the balance of the whisky might crumble.

Each time I returned to the whisky to continue my tasting sessions, I seemed to find a new nuance of flavour. The gentle complexity of the Original Glenmorangie is extremely engaging.

In the Throat 13/15

It is in the finish that the gentleness of the whisky may cause some doubt. The exit seems at first to be rather short and incomplete as haunting trails of indistinguishable flavours are all that the throat can sense. Yet long after my tasting sessions were over I found I could sense vague trails of vanilla and oak in the back of my throat. As well glimmers of citrus zest still resided in my palate well after the dram was gone. Because the whisky is so gentle and delicate, unless it is given a fair chance, the nuances of the finish might be lost.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

I found the Original Glenmorangie 10 Year Old Whisky very difficult to score. It seems to be an anomaly amongst the Single Malt Scotches that I personally have experienced. The flavours are gentle and delicate, and at times it takes patience to coax them out. Yet I found myself returning so often to this whisky that by the end of my tasting sessions I had barely enough whisky left to complete my review. This unconscious desire I felt to keep returning to the whisky helped me realize that although the flavour was gentle and delicate, it was also deserving of a very high score.

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


Suggested Cocktail

The wonderfully light and complex flavour of the Glenmorangie Original might be lost in a typical cocktail, and I thought things over very carefully before I decided to attempt any mixing. My initial thought was to do a simple cocktail with lime juice and sugar but upon spying my forgotten bottle of Galliano in my cupboard, I decided to work with the nuances of vanilla in the whisky to make a cocktail with perhaps a little more going on. I call it, Simply Irresistible.

Simply Irresistible

1 2/3 oz Glenmorangie Original
1/2 oz Lemon-lime Juice (fresh squeezed is best)
1/3 oz Galliano
Sugar Syrup to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

Combine the four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice.
Shake until the metal shaker chills.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a slice of lime


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)


2 Responses to “Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Old”

  1. EricH said

    Glenmorangie’s wood policy is quite astounding. The distillery owns a section of forest in the Ozarks where the white oak trees have much denser wood. These are made into barrels and sent to Jack Daniel’s for maturing Tennessee whiskey for four years and then the casks are sent to Scotland. Glenmorangie does bottle some of the whisky that has been matured in these casks in their cask strength Astar bottling. The majority however is vatted with whisky from refill ex-bourbon casks for the rest of the range.

  2. Mike said

    Quite an accurate review. This whisky is deceptively subtle and delicate, but it has some backbone.

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