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.

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  • It’s interesting that Ralfy Mitchell of the famous 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.

      • 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.

        • I started with Scotch in November 2017. I have since tried (and mostly emptied) 15 bottles of Scotch. I have read several times in comments on this blog that Glenlivet 12 is better than Glenfiddich 12. That boggles my mind. I find, and I really hate to use this wording, Glenfiddich 12 to be smoother and with more character than Glenlivet 12. So much more that I would sware GF was a longer aged Scotch than GL 12. GL just has an alcohol burn that lingers for a long time and refuses to offer anything past oak and a bit of floral. And I like oak. But you have to give me something else. I can’t wait to see how my taste changes towards GL or GF. But to the point of Glenmorangie 10, it is better than either GL or GF. It does have a bit more alcohol burn unless you let it sit for 15 minutes in your glass. Not as much as GL though. It is far more interesting. There is just more going on in this dram. The nose just keeps you wanting to come back and discover more. It makes it worth getting past the alcohol on the nose. And since the three are the same price point, I find it extremely difficult to look at GL or GF 12 anymore. My biggest revelation is that for just a few dollars more, there are bottles of Scotch that really make it hard to think about any of these again.

  • 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.

    • Glenfiddich 12 was going to be my “reset” Scotch. But I find Glenmorangie to be a better bottle. I don’t mind just pouring a dram at night and nosing/sipping on it for 45 minutes. I might call it my “I can’t decide what to have or if I even want any” Scotch. Just a really good opener. I can get the same deal here in the St. Louis area. $45 for the 1.5L

  • 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.

  • 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. 🙂

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • 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.

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

  • 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?

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

  • I bought this stuff, choosing it over Glenlivet because a couple bottles of Glenlivet were my first and only happily-remembered single malt experience 20 years ago and I wanted to branch out after not sipping it for years. Then before tasting I read a review where the dude said this scotch had all the appeal of rubbing alcohol from his wife/GF’s hospital job. NO, that can’t be I said to myself. …Well, yeah, it does be. Pass this stuff by. . .Old Crow Bourbon sips better, by light years. I did get two nice glasses with the purchase but my fumble-fingered wife broke one. …So is Glenlivet still what it was 20 years ago (for the price range) ?? — cause I liked sipping it a lot.

    • If you didn’t enjoy Glenmorangie 10, then I highly doubt you’ll enjoy Glenlivet. No doubt quality has decreased significantly in 20 years – it has across the board in whisky of most types. You might shoot for Glenlivet 15, which is “easier” in terms of that “young alcohol” flavor (which is commonly thought of as rubbing alcohol). Glenfiddich 15 is another good option, and neither is too pricey. For a few extra dollars, you might try The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year, which I consider to be one of the best “under $50” malts around.

  • The first time I tried Glenmorangie was about 2 years ago, but it was an older bottling labeled as a 10YO, not “The Original” as it is now. Not sure when it was actually bottled, didn’t think to even look at the time and the bottle is long gone now. I then tried the newer bottling which was in my opinion not as nice as the older one, however did not have the rubbing alcohol taste and bitterness you describe. In fact it was smooth and creamy, with a lot of butterscotch. Almost a little too sweet for me to regularly want to drink. In fact my wife who doesn’t really like single malt whisky, really liked this. Then just a couple of days ago I opened a newer bottle of Glenmorangie Original (bottled May 14th 2013) and was shocked. This did not seem like the whisky I once enjoyed. The once smooth and butterscotch sweetness was gone and replaced by a harsh and bitter, rubbing alcohol like finish. I however did have one older bottle of Glenmorangie Original (bottled March 21st 2012), which I pulled out and opened to compare. This bottle tasted as I remembered it, with a smooth and butterscotch sweet finish. Has anyone else also noticed this? Guessing The Scotch Noob’s bottle used for this review is also long gone, but if not could you share the production date?

    • Indeed, my bottle is also long gone. I believe there’s widespread degradation in “official” bottlings of whisky across the board. Surging demand is causing many producers that used to sell inferior casks to the independent market to now dump those casks into vattings. Also, older casks that used to get dumped into vats because they were excess are now being scrutinized and sold at a markup rather than enriching the vatting. I’ve heard of such down-stepping in quality from most of the major brands, including Lagavulin, Talisker, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, etc. It’s a sign of the times, I guess, that $29 whisky now actually tastes like $29 whisky. 🙁

      • It may be more likely just a bad bottling. I recently had a 2013 Lagavulin 16 bottle that was bad, tasting like “pleather” smells. Took nearly a year to finish, as I kept thinking air would improve it (nope!). Odd thing is my previous bottle (a 2012) that been the best 16 I had ever had! I found another bottle from 2013 that was two months younger and it’s the typical very good Lag 16. If I had only had bought that one bad bottle, I’d have said “Avoid” and turned off to one of the best whiskies out there. I have also noticed bottle variation with Glenmorangie and other whiskies, though not as severe as the Lag 16 example. Note the bottle code of your bad bottle, and avoid that one in the future.

    • why beginner? I’ve been drinking scotch for 30 years and a great single MALT value is exactly that. If money was no object I guess the beginner comment would be relevant

  • You still are very much a noob, I see…#1, when you mention proce ALWAYS mention volume purchased or it has NO RELEVANCE. #2 I am a single malt veteran, and for the $63 per 1.75 liter I get this for on LI, NY…this is TOP NOTCH SCOTCH value (see what I did there?).

  • scotch is personal,some like cheeseburger some ,like salad,some like the who some like zeppelin.I drink over a botttle of $30 to $50 a week,i drink beer and bourbon every week also and smoke cigarettes and chew tobacco also only when i drink ahd watch music on youtube.I really enjoy glenmorangie 10 year a sweet smooth nectar,a quality whiskey.I personally like speyside scotch and i like at least 86 proof whiskey,this is one of my favorites.eric clapton had a album called whiskey and cigarettes,smoke one or 2 with your whiskey,i love the warm buzz i get on it.eric clapton and stevie ray and scotch and tobacco is the great pleasures of my life.glenmorangie 10 is smooth and tasty whiskey.

  • I recently revisited Glenmo Original after a gap of 4 years or so, and while I don’t necessarily get the same tasting notes as you do, I definitely think this whisky has dropped a little in quality. I think that is probably true with just about every Scotch whisky these days (although some more than others). While the 12 year bottlings from the big name brands like Glenfiddich and Glenlivett still carry the age statements, I suspect they no longer include older whiskies like they used to, and this has had (obviously) a detrimental effect on the overall quality. Maybe we will see a reverse in the coming years when the whisky eventually bursts and stocks of older casks are replenished?

    Keep up the good work with your excellent site.

  • I love trying new whiskeys, and reading about your experiences, Noob. I was introduced to single malt scotch with a lismore bottling. I have tried many labels and styles, but kept overlooking the Glenmorangie Original. I finally purchased a bottle and absolutely hated the first pour. I opened it back up 3 days later and have been enjoying it ever since. Light, citrus, and refreshing come to mind – not usually my thing, but I am appreciating this for what it is. I enjoy this as a casual pour, but I’m looking forward to mixing it up with my newest adventure: Talisker 10.

  • Tried scotch in my younger days but never really took to it. Maybe I just never had good scotch. Went through lots of phases with various bourbons, vodkas, wines and port over the decades, but ended up more of an anjeo tequila guy when I hit 60. Recently ran out of my preferred El Jimador Anjeo and tried a bit of the wife’s Glenmorangie original. I was very surprised how many similarities I found. Sorry if this sounds like herassy in these parts, but for me, it was a positive revelation. In fact, I have been returning to Glenmorangie original with increased frequency. My wife normally would never touch my tequila, but when I told her I liked her scotch almost as much as my tequila, she gave it a try. Her reaction was like mine, but in the other direction. Works out great in our house. No worries about running out of one. We just drink the other. I got her a bottle of Glenmorangie 12 year old last week. Honestly, it was probably more about my curiosity than getting her something a step up from her go-to. More surprises. She preferred the original, but really didn’t find them very different. I liked the 12 year old even better than the 10. I found it more complex, I liked the sweet notes, found it smoother with less of the rubbing alcohol effects. It all seems counter intuitive. I find tequila somewhat more aggressive, harsh and less sweet than scotch so me liking the sweeter of the Glenmorangie bottles and her liking the less sweet original seems opposite our usual preferences. Perhaps our tastes are evolving. Maybe it was just time for a couple of old dogs to learn new tricks. Anyway, she now likes tequila and I like scotch. Neither of us has fully gone to the other side, but we’re more versatile now. Appreciate all the comments from the committed scotch lovers here. It’s a new world for me so I have much to learn, but at least I can now appreciate a good single malt. Cheers.

    • Thanks for the story, Steve! Actually, single-malt scotch and anejo tequila share a lot of common elements – both are clear distilled spirits made from a sugary base (the former malted barley, the latter blue agave hearts) that are then aged for a period of time in oak barrels. Tequila generally ends up with more “grassy” or herbal notes and tends towards the “aggressive” or “harsh” character, as you mentioned, while malt whisky tends towards sweetness and cereal notes and is often “smoother” or milder in flavor. I found an anejo tequila that I quite enjoy, and I find a lot of similar notes (mostly the vanilla, brown sugar, and charcoal notes derived from the oak casks) in both. For what it’s worth, scotch is sometimes smoked with peat (like Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Talisker, etc.) and mezcal is sometimes roasted to the point of smokiness, which ends up with similar smoky/barbecue notes, so there are some more similarities. Cheers!

  • I totally agree with this review I bought a bottle after seeing a recommendation on another site as it was a very long time since I had drunk scotch and wanted to get into the finer nuances of whisky.

    Initially all I could smell and taste was the alcohol and to be honest I thought my nose and taste buds were well off and I almost gave up on scotch all together if it wasn’t for a friend of mine giving me a glass of Penderyn Legend (technically not scotch but Welsh whisky) which restored my faith .

    I will definitely buy another Glenmorangie but I will definitely seek out the Scotch Noob’s advice before my next purchase, which will probably be the Nectar D’or.

  • Old review but what they hey, didn’t see it mentioned. If you don’t like the Glenmorangie 10, maybe give Old Pultney 12 a try. It’s like if they sanded down all the rough spots on the 10yo. Both are great.

  • Rather surprised to hear the knocks on Glenfiddich 12 – I’m somewhat of a single malt newbie myself, usually preferring a blend like JW Black 12. However, tried GF 12 for the first time recently and it has grown on me. I find it fairly smooth and a nice companion to a good cigar. Just received a gift of Glenmorangie 10 for Easter and look forward to trying that out as well.

  • Got a 5th. Come across it after I ran out of WT 101. Stacked the ice. Poured half full. Topped with Sprite Zero. Not bad. Not bad at all!

  • Often in agreement with you…but diametrically differ from you on this Glenmorangie 10. I ironically overlooked this one during my whisky journey..ironic as this bottle can be found EVERYWHERE and reasonably priced. 43% in USA and recently found for $29.99US…so I purchased. What a surprise! Just a terrific and pleasant Highland whisky…fruity…simple but with enough complexity to keep me interested. Wonderful finish. No bitter notes (as you suggest) or other off-putting tastes/smells. No rough edges (as you suggest)…but rather a whisky that seems truly ‘ready’ at 10 years. After recently reading the praise from reviews of the Deanston Virgin Oak and finding it generally just harsh….this Glenmorangie is vastly more refined. When compared to the obvious Glenlivet 12 and Glenfiddich 12 which are pleasant enough….in my opinion this Glenmorangie 10 stands heads and shoulders above its direct competition. This will be a bottle that I forever keep on the shelf.

    • I agree with you! I really like the The Original GM very much. To me it is better then Quinta Ruban, and I like it even more then Balvinie Doublewood! I also enjoyed Lasanta a lot. Love the floral notes. I respectfully disagree with Noob’s rating, especially considering the price. I would be super happy to find something else this good for around 30$.

  • I normally drink my whisky neat and could drink Glenmo OG that way. Added a splash of H2O upon reading reviews. 😮 it opens it up. I will continue to splash this and enjoy it till the bottle is gone.

  • I don’t find this bitter at all. And I like it far better than any of the older, more expensive versions they’ve put out that I’ve tried. Really good value to me.