Founded in 1843, Glenmorangie is one of the Highlands’ most distinguished single malt whiskies. The name, oft mispronounced as Glenmor-AN-gie instead of Glen-MOR-angie (rhyming with orange-y), is said to be derived from the Scots Gaelic for ‘Vale of Tranquillity’ and to see the distillery it is clear how the moniker was acquired. Situated on the banks of the Dornoch Firth in Tain, Ross-shire, the distillery site began life as Morangie Farm with the building itself a former brewery dating to 1738. In 1843 William Matheson, a former distillery manager, bought the farm and converted the Morangie brewery to a distillery, duly christened Glenmorangie. Using two second-hand gin stills, Matheson set out to produce his single malt.
The Highland cathedral
The distillery remained in the Matheson family until 1887 when it was sold to the Maitland brothers and Duncan Cameron, operating as The Glenmorangie Distillery Co. Records show that the spirit from the Tain distillery was being sold in London’s Savoy hotel and other top-end establishments by the end of the 19th century. After the First World War, the distillery was sold to two blending and broking firms who used the spirit for blends such as Highland Queen. In 1959, Glenmorangie was revived as a single malt with a change in strategy that saw the whisky become Scotland’s best-selling single malt. This early success in the emerging single malt category led to the addition of two new stills in 1976, followed by another four in 1990. In 2004 the distillery was purchased by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy along with Ardbeg distillery and five years later another four stills were added to the distillery’s still house – known as the ‘Highland Cathedral’, it is home to the tallest stills in Scotland.
Masters of oak
Glenmorangie produces around 10 million bottles every year. The core range includes a 10-year-old, matured in first and second-fill American White Oak casks sourced from the Ozark mountains of Missouri, and three extra-matured expressions, which begin life as The Original does, before undergoing a further two years finishing in hand-selected ex-wine casks. This wood finish range was developed by Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks, to bring new depths of flavour to the signature spirit. The Quinta Ruban takes its name from the Gaelic for Ruby, after the Ruby port pipes from the ‘Quintas’ wine estates of Portugal that imbue a balance of sweet and dry flavours, Turkish delight, sweet orange and dark chocolate. The Lasanta, meaning warmth and passion in Gaelic, is matured in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks from Jerez in Spain, bringing sultanas, walnuts, butterscotch and hazelnut. Finally, the Nectar D’Or takes its name from the Gaelic and French for gold, and is finished in Sauternes wine casks from France, imparting ginger, lemon meringue, nutmeg and dates, as well as the rich golden colour for which it is named.