Monday, June 7, 2010

Glenmorangie Original 10yo Single Malt Scotch

I thought I'd post a feature on this whisky, because this month the OLCC has it on special, marked down from its usual $39.95 to $37.95. At either price it's a good buy, being only a few dollars more than premium Scotch blends such as Johnnie Walker Black Label (normally $37.95 but this month $33.95) or Chivas Regal (normally $34.95 but this month $29.95). Those few extra dollars get you a significantly better whisky.

It's a longtime favorite of mine, one I like to share (gave a bottle of it to my daughter's BF for Christmas). I feel it's a good choice for someone who's never tried a SMS (Single Malt Scotch), being only moderately peaty (an unpeated one like Glengoyne would be unrepresentative of most SMS, while a peat monster like Laphroaig might scare them away for good). The nose offers floral aromas, along with spicy oak, and the palate is treated to caramel, honey, vanilla, oak and just enough peat that you know you're drinking Scotch, not Irish. The finish is long and sweet.

Don't take just my word for it. John Hansell, editor of The Malt Advocate magazine, gives it a score of 93 and Jim Murray, author of The Whisky Bible, gives it a 94. The significance of this is that these two frequently disagree, partly because Murray favors younger whiskies and Hansell older ones.

The "Original" bottling is of whisky aged exclusively in ex-Bourbon barrels, and thus avoids the problem that often afflicts SMS wholly or partly aged in ex-Sherry barrels, which is taint from too much sulfur (the Spanish Sherry producers treat barrels with this prior to shipping them to Scotland, the intent being to inhibit mildew). It's thus a very reliable whisky, and there's no need to be up-to-speed on batch characteristics, as is the case with some sherried malts such as Aberlour a'bunadh.

If $38 still seems like a lot for a bottle of whisky, consider that a year ago this went for $52. The economy has put a big dent in the sale of high-end liquor, and prices have been coming down. If you're driving down to California soon, you'll discover you can get it for even less there, as low as $35 (BevMo).

In  fact, the only SMS that I've had that I thought was noticeably better is Highland Park 18yo, and that goes for $92. That amount of money will get you two bottles of the Glenmorangie Original, plus $16 in change.

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