Glenmorangie is a distillery in the North East of Scotland. Its pot stills are the tallest in the country and the whisky among the best selling in the world. Since 2004, Glenmorangie has been owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH).
Glenmorangie is a light-bodied single malt with a fruity, floral character. Common tasting notes include citrus, vanilla, almond, malt and gentle spice.
Glenmorangie is produced using unpeated barley for a smoke-free flavour. The Signet brand is made with chocolate malt that has been roasted for a richer flavour profile.
A long fermentation regime helps to promote fruity flavours in the wash. Distillation takes place in the tallest stills in Scotland. Their height promotes a lighter new make spirit.
Each of the Glenmorangie stills is fitted with a boil ball. This spherical construction on the neck of the still increases reflux and causes heavier compounds to drop back into the pot. Only the lightest of vapours reach the summit of the still. From there, they flow into a condenser to be cooled back into liquid form.
The majority of spirit produced is matured in American oak casks. Ex-sherry and port casks are used to produce the Lasanta and Quinta Ruban expressions. From time to time, casks that previously held rum and other spirits also feature.
Glenmorangie started life as a brewery in the town of Tain. In 1843 the site was converted by William Matheson. Matheson acquired a set of narrow-necked stills from a gin distillery in London. The tall stills of the modern distillery are based on the same design.
The distillery remained in Matheson’s family until 1887 when it was sold to the Maitland Brothers. Much of the spirit was used in blends, though a small amount was bottled as a single malt. It was sold at The Savoy Hotel in London towards the end of the 19th century.
After the First World War, the Maitland Brothers sold to Macdonald & Muir. The whisky was used in their Highland Queen brand, though some single malts were bottled in the '20s.
Success as a single malt brand came with the whisky boom of the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Glenmorangie achieved immense popularity and distillery capacity was doubled in 1976. In 1990 four new stills were installed. A further four were added in 2009, taking the total to 12.
In 2004, Glenmorangie was taken over by LVMH in a deal worth £300million. The new owners have since invested heavily in the distillery. In January 2018 it was announced that a new stillhouse was to be built. It would contain a single pair of stills and would be used to produce small experimental spirit runs.
Glenmorangie was one of the first distilleries to adopt cask finishing techniques. This creative spirit continues to manifest in the limited edition Private Editions series. Past releases have utilised re-charred red wine casks from Portugal and ex-Rye whiskey casks from America. For the Allta release in 2019, master blender Dr. Bill Lumsden experimented with natural yeast found on barley grown near the distillery.
Today, Glenmorangie remains as popular as ever. The brand is one of the top five best selling single malts and the Original Ten Years Old bottling is viewed by many as the perfect introduction to single malt Scotch whiskies. The whisky is popular with collectors, too. In 2014, the distillery released Pride, described as the rarest ever Glenmorangie. This 34-year-old, 1978 vintage single malt retailed for £3,900 a bottle.