This is a classic whisky, one that’s been the gateway malt for a good number of drinkers, I’d imagine. If you’ve ever wondered what the quintessential Northern Highland profile is, this is it (though fans of the Old Pulteney 12 and the younger Balblairs may disagree). Given all the crazy (and ongoing) experimentation at Glenmorangie in the LVMH era this entry-level malt gets forgotten in the hoopla over the various exotically finished or put together annual releases.
I’ve tasted it regularly–at bars, at friends’ homes–over the last decade or so and it’s always been solid, if unremarkable. For whisky geeks, or aspiring whisky geeks, that may seem like damning with faint praise but there’s something comforting about knowing that the Glenmorangie 10 is still the Glenmorangie 10; and there are evenings when a solid but unchallenging malt like this is just what you want. This is one of those evenings.
Glenmorangie 10 “Original” (43%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Light malt and toasted wood. Some brine and then some fruit: pears, apple peel, a bit of citrus peel (lemon), something a little more musky/sweaty. With more time the fruit comes out over the malt and wood. Water doesn’t do anything for it, and makes the fruit recede. Wait, I spoke too soon: with more time the fruit comes back and brings some of the malt with it.
Palate: Starts out a little blank at first but then very much as on the nose: malt and orchard fruit; but then it gets sweeter. Thicker texture than you might expect at 43%. On the third sip stronger briny notes also develop. Much later the wood shows up earlier and there are are hints of mocha as well. Water does push the wood back on the palate and brings out more citrus.
Finish: Medium-long. The sweetness gives way to toasted wood that hangs around much longer than I would have expected. A light pepperiness as well. Over time the wood gets a little bit astringent. Water brings the wood under control on the finish as well.
Comments: Okay, after all the love I gave it in the intro I didn’t like this edition (from 2012 as per my source) all that much. The nose is quite nice but the wood seems a little more present than I remember on the palate and finish). Have they been putting new oak matured spirit into this? A bit of a mixed bag with water: the nose is better without but the palate and finish are better with.
Rating: 82 points. (80 without water.)
Thanks to Michael for the sample!
I know Original was being shifted to Astar-style first-fill casks over the last 5-10 years, so that may account for (some of) the extra woodiness.
Aha. So, this has older Astar in it? Or were they re-racking spirit intended to end up in the 10 yo into Astar-style casks at some point later in the maturation process? I can’t remember whether Astar’s been around long enough to be 10 years old.
Astar was always a first fill bourbon cask whisky. Glenmorangie 10 is a vatting of first fill and refill bourbon casks (according to Dave Broom’s book). I would imagine Glenmorangie has increased the first fill content (i.e. Astar) recently hence the strong new wood notes.
Also Astar was previously known as Glenmorangie Artisan Cask (which was bottled at a lower 46%) which was introduced circa 2004. So the distillery does have the aged stock to vat into Glenmorangie 10. In fact it’s probably why Astar was discontinued.
Thanks. Looking at the comments on my review of the Astar I see we’ve actually gone over this before. I have two small children which is like experiencing a permanent concussion and so cannot remember anything.
No problem. Astar is still my favorite Glenmorangie (have two bottles squirreled away for future enjoyment) hence why I did a little research.
I’ve just opened an interesting bottle from Exclusive Malts called A North Highland Single Malt 14 years old (56.7% ABV). Besides the fact that K&L openly say it’s a Glenmorangie on their website, process of elimination reveals only one North Highland distillery forbids the use of their name on independent bottlings. My initial impressions are a much woodier and mature Glenmorangie 10 which suggests to me that it’s an ex-bourbon cask (sadly Exclusive Malts doesn’t mention wood types on the label). Basically it’s a great older companion to the standard 10. There should really be more independent bottlings of Glenmorangie.
I usually like The Original a lot, but I’ll admit this bottle seemed a little lighter (flavor-wise) in style than usual. You’re right about it not taking to water, though I did like the nose quite a bit. I’ll be opening a 2005 bottling this Spring and I’ll save you a sample.