Highlands week started at Dalwhinnie and then moved up north to Dalmore. Let’s go a bit further north today, to Tain and the Glenmorangie distillery. I noted on Wednesday that independent Dalmore is a pretty rare commodity; the same is true of Glenmorangie, indeed, even more so. As per Whiskybase, Dalmore has been bottled by a number of indie outfits; for Glenmorangie, on the other hand, Whiskybase lists very little. It’s a rare distillery that doesn’t have any releases from either Gordon & MacPhail or Cadenhead but Glenmorangie is one of them. Whiskybase shows only one mini from James MacArthur and then a fairly large number of releases from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The fact that Glenmorangie now owns the SMWS doubtless has something to do with the fact that that is the one indie bottler that gets a number of their casks. As a result it’s also the place to go to try Glenmorangie’s whisky outside of the wine-finished high-concept format that rules their official lineup beyond the 10 and 18 yo. This whisky is one of those: a 16 yo from a first-fill bourbon barrel that the Society saw fit to dub “Vibrant and exotic”. Let’s see what it’s like.
Glenmorangie 16, 1993 (53.4%; SMWS 125.22; first-fill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: Well, I don’t know about exotic but this is quite vibrant on the nose with a mix fo sparkling lemon and toasted oak. On the second sniff there’s some sweeter fruit under the lemon (apple, maybe a bit of cherry). The oak seems to get more talkative as it sits. With more air the fruit gets muskier (pineapple), some malt emerges and it all comes together very nicely with the toasted oak. A few drops of water bring the fruit out even more: a nice mix of the apple (joined now by overripe pear) and the muskier fruit.
Palate: Comes in as promised by the nose with lovely balance between toasted oak, fruit and malt. Rich viscous texture at full strength. Gets fruitier as I swallow. A little spicier with time—goes well with the fruit and malt. Not too much change with time. With water it gets spicier still.
Finish: Long. The fruit waxes tropical (passionfruit)—and indeed picks up some wax as well—before subsiding into a malty fade-out. Spicier and less fruity here with water.
Comments: Lovely, balanced bourbon cask malt whisky. Very much in line with the profile of the official 18 yo (which I should really drink more often) though fruitier than my memory of it. I wish Glenmorangie had given us more straightforward whisky of this kind over the years rather than all their high concept releases. I liked this better without water.
Rating; 88 points.