May 18th, 2016
Whisky a go go!
We head down to the Glenmorangie Distillery
Words: The Brigadier
It's the Brigadier here, and I’m up in glorious Inverness-shire to sample some fine golf and even finer whisky. I’ve had a lifetime’s training for this trip and I’m properly ready. I was born to do this.
I’m visiting the Glenmorangie Distillery, under the expert guidance of Andy MacDonald, the Distillery Manager, and a fine golfer to boot.
The first thing that Andy makes us aware of is that single malt whisky can on be made with three ingredients: water, yeast, and barley. That’s your lot.
This is enacted by law, but there are other tunes that a Master Distiller can play on, namely how long the barley is kilned, the type of barrel that the whisky is stored in, the time that the whisky is aged, and the conditions in which it is stored.
I am writing this as I sip a glass of their 12 year old, which has been fermented in Sauterne barrels. It’s long, smooth and gentle and you can really catch the desert wine tones that come from the Sauterne barrels. Oh thank you Lord!
When it comes to barrels, these are a major factor in how their distinctive tastes are created. Glenmorangie use Bourbon barrels to create the distinctive, orange flavours for their 10-year-old whisky.
But there is a barrel crisis looming. By law in the USA Bourbon can only be made in a single barrel, which cannot be reused. This was to protect the coopers’ jobs, but is now being overturned. So Glenmorangie have to buy up as many as they can, and then plan for a different future.
No need to panic though, as this is a long game and nothing will leave this distillery for at least ten years, and there’s plenty of time to sort this problem out.
It’s a fascinating process all in all. First the barley is ‘cooked’, and this has a massive impact on the final product, as how long the barley is in the kiln will determine the depths of the flavours.
The barley is then fermented for a few days with yeast and water – and the quality of the water again has a direct bearing on the final outcome. Glenmorangie’s water comes from a natural spring above the distillery, and is rich in minerals.
The initial brewing process creates what is known as a wash, which is mildly alcoholic. But if you stick your nose in the wash tun you’ll be in for a shock, as the aroma is really overwhelming.
The next part of the process sees the wash placed into giant stills, where the distillation process takes place.
The original founder of Glenmorangie went down to London in 1843 and bought two gin stills, which are much taller than the stills used by other single malt producers, and which are therefore key to the different flavours that are inherent to Glenmorangie.
Once the distilling has been done, the whisky is barreled up and put into long-term storage. Glenmorangie store all their barrels locally, so there is a consistent storage temperature across all their batches. With the local microclimate it never gets too cold or too warm.
And ten or indeed twelve years later, the final product is ready, minus the Angel’s Share, which is the amount of whisky that is absorbed into the atmosphere every year as the whisky ready’s itself for drinking.
Glenmorangie is the offical “Spirit of The Open” and if you’re up in Troon you’ll get a chance to sample their gorgeous wares at their bar.
We’d thoroughly recommend that you do. This is deeply lovely stuff. I meant to take a picture of a full bottle, but that moment has passed. Opps!
Here's the end results.