So now from the northern most Scottish distillery Highland Park, we head south to the mainland to Tain on the Moray Firth the home of Glenmorangie. Founded in 1843 in the defunct Morangie Brewery and completely rebuilt in 1887, when the Glenmorangie company was formed.
They have many claims to fame from the cathedral like still room housing the tallest stills in Scotland standing 8 meters high, to being the first distillery to offer extra matured/finished versions of its malt. This was initially just Port Wood but with continuous research in the area that soon expanded to include Burgundy, Sauternes, Madeira and Sherry. Wood is of great importance to Dr Bill Lumsden head of whisky creation at Glenmorangie. So much so that they have bought an area of woodland in Missouri’s Ozark mountain region, where the timber for the “designer casks” are sourced. This ethos of quality is not just limited to the special expressions, it is used through the entire range. With the cask used for maturing the Original expression only being used twice (compared to some distilleries that may use the cask 4 or 5 times) to ensure the maximum flavor is extracted from the cask during maturation.
The wood is not the only area that is being extensively researched, experimenting with different types of yeast is another area. With upto 20% of the final flavour profile thought to come from this, the research by Dr Lumsden will probably end with Glenmorangie using its own unique yeast for all its production in the near future.
This innovation doesn’t stop with wood or yeast, you only have to look at the recent addition to the core range of the Signet expression. Where 20% of the barley used is ‘chocolate’ malted barley, this is were the barley is tumble roasted like coffee beans, the spirit produced from this is then matured and blended with some of the oldest stocks from Glenmorangie to make what they say is their richest whisky in the range.
In 2004 Glenmorangie was sold to Moët Hennessy for £300 million, who in 2007 completely revamped the entire range. With new style of bottles and packaging being used, the range was entirely renamed to go with the new look. The new style bottle looks like a hybrid of a wine bottle and a Cognac bottle, quite elegant and distinct to look at. They are a distillery that is always pushing the boundaries of what is accepted by the SWA in the question for innovation, for this reason alone I look forward to seeing what they produce in the future.
If you would like to learn more about Glenmorangie they have a very informative website just click the name.
So from Glenmorangie we hop across the Moray Firth and head to the Speyside region and the Glen Moray distillery.