Drinking at 2.30pm in the afternoon, on a weekday can be hard work, but when it's Glenmorangie, one of my favourite single malts, it becomes sheer pleasure. What more when it's an afternoon spent with the Master Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore, a native Scotsman, who now resides in New York, who shares about the whisky with such genuine warmth and enthusiasm, I swear, if Glenmorangie was a religion, I'd have converted there and then.
Some interesting facts about Glenmorangie, it was founded in 1843 hen the founder, William Matheson was granted a license to distil, and to save money, he started with using tall gin stills, (apparently the Scots are as frugal as the Chinese), until shortly after they started to make money, very quickly. The distillery is in the far north of Scotland, in the Royal Burgh of Tain, Ross-shire. The eight elegant Glenmorangie swan neck stills are the tallest in Scotland, which allows for the lightest and purest of vapours to ascend and condense (much like how distilled water is obtained). Water used is from the Tarlogie Springs, and barley is lightly peated during malting.
Another fascinating fact is Glenmorangie uses ex bourbon (American) casks, and has piopneered the use of bespoke casks made from slow growth, air dried oak from the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
Anyway, I was first introduced to these babies a few years back, when a friend kindly brought a bottle of Quinta Ruban for a dinner party. Since then, I have managed to sample all of the above, at various occasions, and I'm just grateful that I discovered these relatively late in life. When you've sampled the good stuff, there's only one direction left to go, and that's upwards. And if I was a youth in my 20s, I'd have to be drinking 30 year single malts by the time I am my age now. That would be painful, to the wallet.
Joy is seeing all these babies lined up, in the comfort of Arthur's Bar & Pub, in Shangri-la, KL.
My heart leapt with joy ...18 Years very rare. Indeed!
We begin with the tasting, starting with the basic 10 Year Single Malt original, which is the mother of all the rest, as it is from this fine drink the other three are spawned. As David Blackmore put it, they all have the DNA of the 10 year original. It's a pale lemony gold color, with aromas of mandarin, lemon, vanilla. Strange how adding a dash of water changes the tastes, and floral notes of lemony bergamot, geranium etc, assail the palate. Okay, to be HONEST, my plebian tongue isn't such a sensitive radar that can pick up on all these senses, but suffice to say, it was very titillating.
The Lasanta, which USED to be my favourite of the three, until David said it was a preferred drink amongst the older folk, is extra matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry Casks, after the original 10 years, and has notes of toffee raisins, and walnuts. Aroma wise, it has burnt caramel, ...and rum and raisin ice cream. It has that sweet flavour typical of Spanish sherry. A lovely lovely elegant classy drink by any standard. In fact, I just procured a bottle from the DFS. Incidentally, Lasanta is gaellic for Warmth and Passion.
The Quinta Ruban (Kwinta Rooban)...sounds terribly exotic. And it is. Extra matured in port pipes, shipped from the "Quintas" or wine estates of Portugal, it is a sensuous smooth spirit, that really dances on the palate with myriad textures. Ruban is scots gaellic for red (ruby). Apparently, according to David, you cannot really SMELL sweet, but rather, the stuff associated with sweetness. The aromas are supposedly reminiscent of traidtional Christmas dinners, but the taste, my oh my, silky velvet ...words to colorful to describe. He also says that these whiskies are "unnecessarily" well made...ie, it exceeds expected standards.
The Nectar D'or, (nectar of the gods) interestingly, I learnt, is the most "feminine" of the three. And d'or is not french, though understandably gets mistaken. It's actually gaellic. It's extra maturation in hand selected Sauternes wine barriques probably is the reason for the "sweetness", and I guess the name Nectar also conjures up some preconceived notion of sweetness. The aromas are supposed to be like that of a french patisserie with freshly baked pastries, taste of melting creaminess of lemon tart, with a languid finish of sweet lemon zest and hints of ginger and nutmeg.
By this time, after elegantly finishing all my tasting portions, with the speed of a drunken sailor taking a swig from his hipflask, I was feeling a slight happy buzz.
Had to line the stomach with some of the finger food provided.
That there is the numerous faces of David Blakmore, and also Michael, the local brand ambassador for Glenmorangie. That in David's hand is the 18 year old, a truly elegant and class act of a whisky. Slowly matured for 15 years in the finest ex bourbon casks, a propertion is transferred to Spanish Olorosso Serry casks for the final three years, (like the Lasanta, I suppose). A honeyed gold rich colour, it has an aroma of overflowing abundance, and to put it in layman's terms, it smells classy! The palate is mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of flavours, grapefruit, orange, honey, nuts, the brains neurons just have a field day identifying all the various combinations.
And finally, the piece de resistance, Glenmorangie's Iconic THE SIGNET. It is of course, a secret "recipe", and it is considered the love child between bourbon and glenmorangie. Amongts the secrets revealed, it is created from high roasted "chocolate" malted barley which deliver depth and intensity, and is matured in exclusive casks.
Just look at that glorious dark seductive colour, and a swirl coats the inside of the glass like a viscous fluid clinging onto dear life. It really is a treat to the palate, and I just wished I didnt have to drive back that afternoon, so that I could imbibe more of this distinguished drink. Just reminiscing about it sends shivers of joy down my spine.
The dashing men of Moet Hennessy Diaego.
There you have it, the 10 Year original, Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, Nectar D'Or, the spectacular 18 year and the inimitable Signet. I've already placed my order for the 18 years.
Thanks again to MHD and G2 for yet another wonderful event.