Glenmorangie The Original (10 year)

Despite reviewing justabouteveryrecentGlenmorangiebottling (and mostly loved them all), I’ve somehow managed to miss the most basic one. To rectify that, I’ve turned my admittedly biased palate to Glenmorangie’s baseline expression, the 10 year “Original”, which retails for around $36 near me, up from $29 only a year ago.

The Original is aged for 10 years in only ex-bourbon casks, both first- and second-fill, and includes some of the “Designer” oak that was sourced by Glenmorangie wood management in the Ozark mountains of Missouri explicitly for the purpose of turning into barrels, sloshing some bourbon in, and then getting to the real business of aging Glenmorangie. Although this is not stated outright, it’s likely that this is the same whisky, aged further, that ends up in Glenmorangie’s cask-finished expressions. We thus get to experience it here, naked, minus cask embellishment.

Nose: The initial impression, similar to malts from The Balvenie, is a slightly citrusy honey with tones of light caramel. Some nondescript floral character, and piercingly young fruit (green pears, tart grapes, etc.). Deeper examination yields a slightly unpleasant antiseptic note which, it should be remembered, seems to vanish in slightly older (or aggressively cask-finished) Glenmorangie malts.

Palate: Medium bodied. A solid butterscotch foundation, with some slightly bitter barrel tannins, and more antiseptic. Nothing is built on that foundation, however.

Finish: Of medium length, with an unfortunate echo of both the rubbing alcohol and the bitter oak notes leading the way. A slathering of vanilla frosting, and a ghost of bitter herbs.

With Water: Water, as usual, amps the floral notes in the nose, revealing rosewater. It brings a hint of orange peel to the palate, and rounds off a few of the rougher edges. I urge the use of water with this one – it patches up a lot of the holes.

Overall: Despite my adoration for older Glenmorangies, I have a hard time loving The Original. While its price must be considered – it’s hard to find decent competition for a $35 single malt – this particular bottle hits two of my three least favorite whisky characteristics: bitterness and “rough” rubbing alcohol (luckily it doesn’t have any of that ‘rotten banana’ aroma that I despise). The nose is noteworthy – showing a lot of promise with honey, florals, and a hint of that Glenmorangie elegance, but it gets shaky on the tongue and then all falls apart on the finish. Luckily, a dash of water improves the malt to the point that I’m interested in a second glass.

If you’re considering a purchase, I would say this falls short of both The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 (an extra $10) and Glenmorangie’s own cask finishes (an extra $12 to $20). It might be, however, a slight improvement over the cheaper Glenlivet 12 and Glenfiddich 12, especially if you’re not sensitive to bitter notes in whisky. My rating might seem harsh, but I just can’t recommend a whisky I disliked this much. Don’t let that dissuade you, though… go find a glass somewhere and see if I’m wrong.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Glenmorangie has been an innovator in the industry for years, pioneering cask expressions and experimental bottlings of their exceptional Highland whisky. Often cited as the biggest-selling whisky in Scotland, Glenmorangie is also attracting a lot of international attention, winning awards left and right. Among their cask-aged expressions are the Nectar D’Or (matured in French Sauternes casks after 10 years minimum in bourbon barrels), Quinta Ruban (matured in port barrels), Lasanta (matured in oloroso sherry casks), and more. Glenmorangie sources its oak casks in the Ozark mountains and loans them for four years to the Jack Daniels distillery before using them for Scotch. Glenmorangie’s water flows from the Tarlogie Springs in the hills above the distillery, over sandstone (yielding hard water) and picks up flavor components from the clover and heather in the hills before entering the distillery, where 24 very long-necked stills called the “giraffes” make Glenmorangie’s classic Highland malt. Glenmorangie, like Ardbeg, is owned by luxury giant LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy).

Glenmorangie The Original (10 year)
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $36 - $40
Acquired: Bottle, purchased somewhere in 2012 for $29.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , ,
18 Comments

18 Responses to Glenmorangie The Original (10 year)

  1. Eric says:

    It’s interesting that Ralfy Mitchell of the famous ralfy.com has the mirror-image opinion of this vis-a-vis yours – he thinks the older, finished versions of Glenmorangie aren’t an improvement on the original, which he likes much better. I’m probably closer to your view on this one – I don’t actively dislike this stuff but I’d be hard pressed to say that it’s as good as or better than its finished siblings. For his part, Glenmorangie’s master distiller swears that this one is his favorite and that, even though he can drink any Glenmorangie he wants, given a choice, he would most prefer to drink this one. I find that mind-boggling given how much more flavorful and interesting all the other Glenmorangies I’ve tried are.

    • Eric, Before I’d tasted it, I would have agreed that a “classic” or “original” version of a malt usually has a special appeal that is often “covered up” by trappings such as fancy cask finishes. I could definitely see that point of view from someone whose job it is to craft the best possible “base” malt for the purpose of further enhancement. I could even see myself advocating the “original” version of this malt as something that needs to be appreciated before the “flavored” versions can be analyzed…

      All that goes out the window, though, because this particular dram resonates very negatively with me. Far more bitterness and “raw alcohol” flavor than I care for, even in an inexpensive malt. This wasn’t a 50ml sample, either, but a 750ml bottle that had been open for only a few months. I tried the usual things, too, letting the glass “breathe” for awhile, adding some water (the water did, admittedly, help), etc.. I just couldn’t get the overbearing bitter-herbs note out of my taste memory. I fully expect to get flamed for this one – I’m sure plenty of people find it to be flavorful, smooth, and complex. Sadly, I don’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        For the price, this is good value base-level scotch, better than Glenlivet and much better than Glenfiddich. It’s also better than the blends at this price level, save Great King Street. I’d rate it lower than Ralfy, maybe an 85. I tried the “finished” ones; didn’t like Quinta Rubin at all and LaSanta was good for a couple of bottles, but I finally decided I preferred to come back to the simple bourbon aged 10 YO, which is what Ralfy was saying. The finishes became tiresome, but I find the base spirit decent, especially at $30/bottle. I usually have it as an opening dram before moving on to more complexity, but other times I stick with this easy sipper.

  2. Justin says:

    Costco (Las Vegas) sells the huge 1.5 liter bottle of this for $45. I buy it, fill a decanter, and leave it out for whoever wants it. It’s so cheap I use it for mixing or whatever. I also prefer to keep this out in the open for when we have company who don’t respect the malt! I let them chug down this stuff out of a Glencairn glass or a tumbler filled with ice so they feel sophisticated. I’m not a snob but some people!.. I also find that this is a very young , and very plain single malt wisky. Those qualities are great for resetting a good baseline for tasting and nosing in my opinion.

  3. Mark G says:

    I find it interesting that you find it bitter (rubbing alcohol). I love this whisky. It’s never tasted bitter to me. To each, their own. In the category of rubbing alcohol (for me): Jameson’s, White Horse, and Teacher’s.

  4. Paxton Kennedy says:

    I emailed you with a question about what I should try for my first single malt and Glenmorangie 10 is one of the ones you recommended. I really enjoyed and have since tried a couple other scotches. Have you tried the Glen Grant 10 year? I’m enjoying it now and am curious what your take on it is?

    • Hi Paxton, I have not yet tried Glen Grant – at any age. I’ll keep an eye out for it. By the way, Speyburn 10 is, I’ve found, another pretty good malt for the money. It’s my current “drink something cheap and tasty” mood bottle. :)

  5. Rich says:

    I spent a lot of time researching what I thought would be a solid choice for my first bottle of scotch. I watched some seemingly good video reviews on YouTube including the one mentioned above from Ralfy Mitchell who seems to be an expert along with those put out by Glenmorangie featuring their senior distiller/managers. I really thought that I couldn’t go wrong with this one, thought the Quinta Ruban seemed interesting as well from what I had watched via the internet. I live in a suburb of NY City and the going rate for a 750ml bottle of the “Original” is about $45 plus tax. I bought a bottle today and after trying some with a little water; this review by The Scotch Snoob is certainly the most accurate based on my first impression ( I am a newby to scotch), unfortunately after tasting the strong rubbing alcohol finish I was reminded of why I haven’t
    Had scotch in so many years and I was extremely disappointed that a reputable brand and impression could taste nearly undrinkable to me. If this is a decent bottle of scotch I don’t
    Think scotch is for me, all I could smell at the nose was the rubbing alcohol no vanilla, melon, tangerines or cinnamon as the youtube videos promised.

    • Hi Rich,
      Sorry about your experience. I think some people are naturally more sensitive to the “rubbing alcohol” aspects of even the better single malt scotches. My mother won’t touch the stuff, she says it all smells like rubbing alcohol. Here’s my suggestion – go to a reasonably high-end bar in the area (there should be plenty of good bars with good scotch selections in NY city) and buy a glass of Macallan 18, NEAT (or really any 18 year-old that isn’t peated). Keep your nose a good 3 inches (or more) above the rim of the glass so you don’t burn out your nostrils. Then, take a smallish sip and hold it in your mouth (it will burn on your tongue) – count to 10 in your head, and then swallow. Repeat. If you have a better experience, then the challenge for you is going to be finding a good middle ground between $45 Glenmo 10 and $200 Macallan 18. If you still don’t enjoy it, then maybe scotch isn’t your drink, or it will take a lot of “acquiring” the taste to get used to it. Hope that helps. Cheers!

  6. Rich says:

    I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and offer some good advice that I will try to follow regarding the thing the Macallan 18. I wonder if I tried the Quinta Ruban or the Lasanta my experience might have been completely different. If I can avoid the strong rubbing alcohol scent at the nose (my nose was in the glass) and that very bitter/salty finish I’m confident my impression of scotch would change for the better. Thanks again.

  7. RodL says:

    The Glenmorangie Original was my first single-malt, I just tried it about a month and a half ago. My first impression was that it was grainy like some Irish whiskeys, but it reminded me even more of a reposado tequila (some vanilla, a hint of smokiness). Since then, I have come back to it and found that the graininess remains (breakfast cereal), but I find a little honey and a hint of citrus peel as well–perhaps because I added a few drops of water. I did not find anything that reminded me of the tequila since the first try.

    I have now picked up a few other single malts in the past month or so–Dalwhinnie, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Talisker 10, and I just picked up the LaSanta today. So far the Talisker is probably my favorite, although I have enjoyed everything I have tried so far.

    I noticed that the LaSanta is the one Glenmorangie that you have not reviewed yet. I would be interested to hear your take on it.

    Most of what I have picked up so far has been based on your comments in this blog. I have been thankful for your insights!

    • Thanks for your comment, RodL. I do enjoy the Lasanta, although I’ve never purchased a bottle. I have a sample I’ll use to do a formal review, so expect that sometime (I have a bit of a backlog though!) in the future. I do recommend it, though, it’s a great way to drink sherried (finished, not aged) single malt for not a lot of money.

      • RodL says:

        Thanks–I’m looking forward to trying it, just to get a sense of a sherried whisky. As you can see from what I have picked up so far, I’m trying to find out what I like.

        I probably like the Glenmorangie Original a little better than you do, but I’m not sure that I see myself picking up another bottle anytime soon. It is pleasant, but sort of bland compared to some others. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing really particularly right with it either.

  8. Gusti Noria says:

    In my considered opinion its one of the finest single malts for the price – Even better than some of its cousins with various finishes.

  9. Flip says:

    Under the glenlivet 12 thread, this is described as similar to glenlivet, but better. Glenlivet 12 is a must have. This is labeled as not recommended. I’m looking for something along the lines of glenlivet 12 with a stronger taste. Would this stuff satisfy?

  10. Rickorich says:

    Considering the price of $37 where I live in Maryland I’m quite fond of Glenmorangie Original. If I’m missing out on anything better at this price point please share? I prefer my original with 3-4 drops of water or 1 sugar cube size ice with 3 minute open air times. I’ve tried all of Glenmorangie 12yo line up and would buy again.

    • Rodl says:

      I recently picked up a bottle of the Macallan 10 year old Fine Oak. It was on sale in PA for $40, which puts it roughly in the same price range as the Glenmorangie Original. I much prefer the Macallan. It is relatively light, bit with more depth and a lot smoother than the Glenmorangie. The Glenmorangie was my first single malt, but I think I would recommend the Macallan 10 over it to other noobs.

  11. mike says:

    I really like Glenmorangie. As a northern irishman I was brought up on Bushmills so maybe it’s the difference between the drinks that’s refreshing. You’ve got me interested now in trying the really good stuff

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