The 16 men of Tain have certainly been busy in their quiet isolation, until with all the pomp and circumstance befitting an elder statesman of the whisky world, Glenmorangie has unveiled its new look.New bottles, new liquid and a new Pictish inspired logo have been rolled out by this stalwart of a highland malt marking the biggest change in the brand’s history to date.The Glenmorangie Signet has been inspired by a panel of scrolling on the Cadboll Stone – a Pictish standing stone found close to the distillery.However do not let the new fancy curved bottles, shiny swirling motif and sumptuous colours fool you, this is no straight forward marketing glitz, the biggest change lies within the glass.Glenmorangie, with the award winning Dr Bill Lumsden as its driving force, has sometimes come in for criticism for having too many expression in the market place confounding customers.No more, and Dr Bill has saved one of the most important experiments for last – because its in the whisky the difference can really be found.Gone are the days of 43% bottlings of the wood finish range, instead Bill has reduced the number of expressions concentrating on the core of Port, Sherry and Sauternes, introduced as the Extra Mature Range, are all now bottled at 46% and are non chill filtered, so no losing the chewy, satisfying flavours in the press machine.The much admired 10 Years Old, now known as the Original, gets some new clothing too as it will now feature an increased proportion of designer casks, made from slow growth, air dried American oak from the Ozark mountains in Missouri.It is this improved Original that under pins the whole range as the extra mature range is essentially the 10 years maturing followed by two years finishing.Dr Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation, says despite trimming the expressions down there would still be limited guest whiskies and he was still experimenting.He adds: “The Glenmorangie brand has a long-standing reputation as a leading pioneer in whisky maturation, and as a company, the quality of our whisky is at the very heart of everything we do.“We endeavour to provide delicious single malt, and the core range delivers new expressions that offer an extraordinary variety of tastes, textures and aromas.” At the more mature end of the range, the 18 Years Old and The Quarter Century (25 Years Old) have not changed.The company has also reinvented the wheel, the tasting wheel that is, with a new kaleidoscope of colours, tastes and moods.The idea is that Glenmorangie offers a feast of taste, textures and aromas. The kaleidoscope allows the taster to select images that best capture when they are sensing in the glass – in colour, aroma and texture and taste.Sensory whisky creator Annabel Meikle says the idea was to take the myriad of smells found in the Original and make them more personal for drinkers.She adds: “We wanted something that would span language and cultural barriers, so its not based on words.“If you smell vanilla it might make you feel comforted. We also looked at colours associated with tasting whiskies, so citrus smell might lead you to the colour yellow.“I think it will help audiences who have not approached whisky tastings to explore the journey in a different way.” We sent the new collection, together with several of the old expressions, to our whisky guru Dave Broom to give his view.Tasting Notes ‘OLD’10 YEARS OLD
Nose:Light and sweet with a hint of dry malt before it sweetens into passion fruit,orange peel and hot gorse (flower and stem) In time and with water a peachiness alongside vanilla.Palate:Clean and sweet with light grip.Good feel mainly mid-palate.Fine citrus lift.Touch of almond Finish: Cream and fruit compote.Conclusion:Clean sweet and delicious.Underrated.ORIGINAL Nose:Honeyed and sweet with creme brulee,vanilla custard,white chocolate, passion fruit but added green mango,guava and a hint of malt/sawdust.Banana in time with citrus zest.Palate:Very soft,silky clean.Juicy and tongue-clinging.Tangerine,passion fruit smoothie .Finish: Ripe tropical fruit.Long with light spice.Colour:Significantly more substantial and deeper.Tongue-coating with a longer finish.Overall more succulent.‘OLD’SHERRY Nose:Slightly musty and warm.Fig,chicory, some earth and a hint of date.Cream and grape must.“Sherried” Palate: Very thick feel.Very solid with slightly burnt notes.Dried fruits Finish:Almost peppery.Conclusion:Quite simple.Well enough made but not inspirational.LASANTA Nose:Colour is more vibrant.Sultana,dried mango,grilled almond, oak,green olive.With water,slight earthiness citrus Palate:Succulent and sweet start.Balanced, good mid-palate,with hazelnut and walnut and dried citrus peel.Treacle toffee.Covers the palate.Finish:Big and smooth.Oilier Conclusion:Better integration and substantially bigger.No longer just sherry laid on top of Glenmorangie.A significant improvement.OLD’PORT Nose:Very light and innocuous,almost thin.Vinous.Some rosehip and cream.Jammy.With water a briarynote.Palate:Slightly dilute.This lacks middle and thickens into a jammy finish.Confected.Conclusion:Not bad but not stellar. Quinta Ruban 1st QUINTA RUBAN Nose:Significantly morepink.Mix of red (rasps,redcurrant) and black (tayberry,sloe) fruits.More alcohol.Lush with water where hibuscus and Turkish Delight emerge.Palate:Silky and very sweet.Broad with good concentration.Firm with more oak, mix of ripe fruits,chocolate.Light grip.Finish:Light tobacco.Conclusion:Much more grown up and again better integration.More on the nose, Chewier and better structure.NECTAR D’OR Nose:Luscious.Ripe and rich with barley sugar,and beeswax mixed with Greek yoghurt and honey.Caramelised peach, raffia,and an exotic note.A citric lift (lemon, kumquat) stops it just being a sweet bomb.Some crisp cereal and subtle spice.Palate:Clean and sweet,zesty (lime) in the centre then all the honeyed flavours come through.Barley sugar again,then apricot, quince and coconut.Finish:Light chocolate,cardamom.Conclusion:Seamless.Rich luscious and complex with great depth and power.Great balance.18 YEARS OLD Nose:Deeper oak.Waxed fruits, honeysuckle,nutmeg,frangipan,vanilla pod.Overripe mango,eucalypt,leather and some dried fruit.With water comes yew,cedar and sultana.Complex.Palate:An oilier nature.Oak driven with cashew,then the dried tropical fruit mix.Water brings out an explosive spiciness on the back palate and finish.Intriguing and complexmix of fragrance and sherried depth.Hint of sulphur.Finish:Spiced but also mint chocolate.Conclusion:The intriguing one.THE QUARTER CENTURY (25 YEARS OLD) Nose:Mature deep and sweet.Honeycomb, wax and citrus peel with some marzipan, nut,and cigar wrapper. Red fruit cut with herbs and peach stone.Hint of clove.Those passion fruits reappear.Luscious toffee.Sweet orange peel.Grows in the glass.Palate:Mouth coating.Honey.Nutmeg,red pepper flakes.Chewy and beautifully balanced and subtle.Starts sweet,then deepens in the centre with light oak structure and then unleashes spices and silky honeyed notes on the finish.Orange creme brulee,strawberry, orange blossom water.Complex.Finish:Toffee,raspberry leaf and spiced honey.Hot toddy.Conclusion:Layered and languorous.One to sip for an hour...and surprisingly good with a medium-bodied cigar (Cohiba Maduro5sinceyou asked).