Glenmorangie is one of the big names in Highland scotch whisky, and they’ve got an interesting approach to barrel aging. Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation at the distillery, believes that up to 60 percent of a whisky’s character is derived from the oak barrels in which it ages.
This can be seen in Glenmorangie Artein, where a combination of 15- and 21-year-old Scotch is first aged in used bourbon barrels, and then moved to Bordeaux-style Sassicaia (Super Tuscan) casks. This finishing touch is partly what gives Glenmorangie Artein such a dark color and strong fragrance.
In addition to Glenmorangie Artein, the distillery is known to use many different types of barrels to achieve different results. Their Nectar D’Or whisky, for example, is finished in Sauternes wine barrels, while their Quinta Ruban is finished in ruby port casks. But most of their products start out in white oak casks created from trees growing in Glenmorangie’s own forest in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. These new casks are left to air for two years before being leased to the Jack Daniels and Heaven Hill distilleries for bourbon aging. Glenmorangie later uses those same barrels to mature their own whisky, so you’ll find some American whiskey elements in their spirits.
The distillery also experiments with their warehousing techniques. Glenmorangie’s Cellar 13, a special edition bottling, consists only of whisky from barrels that were matured in the warehouse closest to the sea, and is known for its fresh and salty character.
But back to Glenmorangie Artein… let’s crack open this bottle and take it for a spin.
Color: Deep gold
Nose: Apple and strawberry jam notes above some black pepper. There’s a bit of honey at the end, as well as small hints of mint.
Taste: Full bodied with lots of malt. Also apparent is cream and honey mixed with vanilla spice, plus a bit of molasses as well.
Finish: Good length. Reminiscent of lemon ice cream and café au lait.
– 48% Alcohol by Volume