Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (12 year)

Update: This edition has been replaced by a 14 year-old version, reviewed here.

These days with scotch prices rising like lost balloons above an amusement park, one must look harder than ever to find reasonable deals to keep the scotch bug fed. Lately I’ve been surprised to see Glenmorangie bucking the industry trend and keeping their prices more or less stable. This, especially from “luxury” brand LVMH, endears them to me more than ever. A quick review of Internet prices shows that Glenmorangie costs the same as it did when I started blogging two and half years ago: The 10 year-old “Original” below $35, the 12 year-old Quinta Ruban and Lasanta at $46, the Sauternes-finished 12-year Nectar d’Or at $65 (Sauternes casks are expensive), and the 18 year-old at $90 (WAY low for a quality 18 year-old malt, especially now).

While I’ve always been a proponent of the Sauternes-finished Nectar d’Or, I’ve only had a passing familiarity with the “other two” wine finishes from Glenmorangie: Both at 12 years of age, Quinta Ruban is finished in port casks and Lasanta in not-particularly-novel sherry casks. Neither is going to win any awards for best-in-category, but at $46 they present value that’s pretty much unequaled in the wine-finished single-malt group. Consider other port finishes on the market: Balvenie’s 21 year-old port finish is $200, Springbank’s 14 year-old port finish upwards of $90, and even GlenDronach’s 15 year-old tawny port finish is $70, as is BenRiach’s equivalent tawny finish, and neither is available in the US.

Quinta Ruban is, like the Lasanta and Nectar d’Or, aged for 10 years in American white-oak (read: ex-bourbon) casks. (They probably use the same whisky that goes into the 10-year “Original”, which is aged in a combination of first- and second-fill ex-bourbon barrels). This is followed by a 2-year dip in port pipes imported from the “quintas” or port-producing wine estates of Portugal. A port pipe is a lengthened barrel with tapered ends used to mature port. Quinta Ruban is bottled at the perfect strength (46% ABV) and is not chill-filtered. This, or the Lasanta, is pretty much a must for any value-conscious malt drinker’s cabinet.

Nose: The port finish comes through as a bouquet of fruit aromas. While not specifically smelling like port, the malt has elements of fresh grapes, raisins, cherries, and so on. The fruit character is fresher and more tart than the sticky, dried-fruit profile of sherry aging. Some vanilla oak underlies – but does not compete with – the fruit. Well-balanced, refreshing, and thankfully not cloying.

Palate: Medium bodied, with initial aspects of caramel or nougat. A tad on the burny side. The fruit is fainter, but more reminiscent of ruby port.

Finish: Medium-long. Caramel again, and marshmallow. The fruit returns only as a faint candy coating as the whole fades into mild barrel char.

With Water: Water awakens some indistinct tart fruit on the nose, but also something like sulphur. Perhaps it’s the chlorine in the water where I’m tasting (I’m on vacation!), but I don’t enjoy the addition of water here.

Overall: Port finishing is not common, but is always a welcome pairing for a single malt, especially one as well-suited to cask manipulation as Glenmorangie. Unlike other port finishes, Quinta Ruban is priced to be accessible. While it cannot compete with, say, a Springbank port-finish for complexity, at $46 it is a satisfying dram with pleasing flavors and especially aromas. You can do a lot worse with $46.

Note: I’ve upgraded this to a “Must Try” – really, if you haven’t had Quinta Ruban and especially if you’re frustrated by price increases, this is your next bottle.

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 Quinta Ruban (12 year)
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $46 [Sponsored Link]
Acquired: (Sample saved from a friend's bottle)

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  • Glenmorangie 10 (now “Original”) converted me to single malts 30 years ago and I still keep a bottle in my cabinet2. I also like the Lasanta. That said, the QR is not one that I find to my flavor profile. Maybe I am not a port person, but I doubt I will buy it again. I’d put it as a “Try before Buy” type personally, but the price is right if one wants a different experience. It’s only $35 here while the Original is about $30. Both great prices!

  • The Quinta Ruban is a go-to for me. For the money, I think it’s fantastic. I feel like water brings out more of the ‘Original’ qualities…I prefer it with just a drop of water. I don’t generally pair whisky with food, but this with a bit of dark chocolate is really quite good. Great Blog!

  • I just bought this today and it is fantastic. It looks like it will become a regular in my rotation.

    As a huge port fan I love the port notes, they compliment the malt incredibly well. Outside of sherry, I’ve never had another wine-finished Scotch, but I’m definitely going to have to explore the style some more.

  • I am new to single malts and the first bottle I bought was Glenmorangie Original but I gave the distillery another try based on Mark’s recommendation. I bought the Quinta Ruban at a store in my area for about $47 before tax at the time of this comment and I find it enjoyable similar to Macallan 12 in complexity and quality. Like the Macallan 12 it has a very appealing nose at this point in my tasting experience I do not pick up the many claimed flavors in the distillery’s published tasting notes. It is bottled at 46% ABV I personally think that adding a little water adds to this one, I prefer the Macallan 12 neat, I do pick-up a caramel/ cocoa scent with a licorice like long lasting finish, for my next bottle I am torn between either trying the Glenmorangie Lasanta ( not sure how it compares to the Macallan 12) or The Balvenie Doublewood 12.

  • The old saying about adding water to your whisky is that if your water tastes like______, your whisky will taste like________ . This is a 46%, and there isn’t one on the market that doesn’t improve with a tablespoon of water to take heat off first taste and open up the aromas. Use good water, bottled if you must, but it makes a difference. Rich’s notes are dead on. My suggestions for your next bottle are the Balvenie Doublewood (most excellent) and the Balvenie Caribbean Cask (sweet but very interesting). We can’t drink the Macallan 15 Fine Oak all the time………

  • it’s my favorite right now…just invested in four bottles. I have been a macallan and belvenie guy for four or five years now. this and the orangestone-21 are really nice right now and moved to the front of the cabinet.

  • This is my first post to your site. I really enjoy your reviews and find they are very helpful in making purchase decisions. I tried the Quinta Ruban recently for the first time and it is sublime stuff. It smells as good as Van Winkle 20 year old and tastes nearly as good. Great price as well in 2015, $49 in TN.

  • I guess 2012 was a bad year. My bottle smells strongly like isopropyl alcohol, burns significantly and has a chemically finish. And yes, that’s neat, not the water. Too bad. I’ll stick to the Balvenie scotches and the original Glenmorangie

  • I love all the Glenmorangie expressions, except for this one. The Original, the LaSanta and the Nectar d’or are just amazing. The Glenmorangie QR, on the other hand is a HUGE disappointment. Glenmorangie QR is cloyingly sweet, one dimensional. ROUGH. For the record: I am not a fan of port and I like my wines/spirits very dry. I can see how the general public would love this one, cuz it is sweet. Pouring the rest of the bottle in the sink, was a pricy, but well worth.To each, their own. Cheers.

    • I agree with you. There’s something not altogether with this one.

      If you can find it, I suggest you go for the BenRiach 15 Tawny Port. Beautiful aroma and easy on the palate.