Glenmorangie is a Highland distillery located north of Inverness, not far outside the town of Tain in Ross & Cromarty. It’s a 40 minute car trip and a nice journey along the Cromarty firth past Teannninich and Dalmore distilleries.
I have always felt a sort of affinity for the brand. My family has connections with Tain, and a cousin of mine built a rather grand mansion close to the distillery. Named Morangie House, it remained in the family until the 1960s and its now a nicely-presented hotel within walking distance of the Glenmorangie distillery.
The distillery itself began life as a farm brewery – known as Morangie Brewery – in the 1700s. It was eventually purchased and converted to a distillery in the 1840s, renamed Glenmorangie. The common Morangie component of all these names comes from the small stream known as Morangie Burn.
While we are talking about the name, let’s address the elephant in the room: pronunciation. Glenmorangie is one of those distilleries/brands that I think just accepts the incorrect pronunciation, to an extent the wrong has almost become the norm. For the purists, and in the simplest form, just think of the second part of the name sounding like the fruity taste “Orangie” so: glen-MORR-an-JEE. Trust me: even in conversation I find myself slipping across the different forms of the name!
Like many Scottish distilleries, ownership has changed a number of times over its lifetime. Today, (and since 2004) the brand is owned by the French holding company Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. With that ownership came some branding changes and a new bottle shape. These changes did little to detract from its image and its liquid product remains a very popular Highland malt. The expressions they produce are rather extensive with a core range, prestige range, private collection range, and a number of other collections. It is from its most popular and readily available core selection that today’s dram comes from.
This dram was originally a 12 year old expression with a 46% ABV, with a 10 year bourbon maturation and a two year Sauternes finish. For the unfamiliar: Sauternes is a French wine from Bordeaux. it is produced by allowing green/white grapes to almost reach a rot-like state on the vine, this treatment of the grapes allows them to become almost raisined, causing the fruit to have a high concentrate of sugar. It is sweet and often referred to as honey-like. Some call it a dessert wine; the wine can be expensive and can be found in very old vintages.
In 2019 Glenmorangie began a transition and the Nectar d’Or became a non age statement release, still at 46% ABV. As we know, this move often allows producers to release younger whiskies quicker, and can often be a stock manipulation tactic. The length of the original maturation and Sauternes finish are now a little unclear; perhaps given a little time more information will become available.
Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or – Review
Colour: Splendid bright gold.
On the nose: I have tried several Sauternes matured or finished whiskies and always find them to be heavy on the citrus notes. This has that also, perhaps leaning more toward the lemon element. There is a nice, sweet vanilla custard, perhaps on a warm sugary pie crust, a little ginger and fruity
In the mouth: The custard on the nose is now getting poured over a steamed syrup pudding, and at the same time there is a crème brulee with demerara sugar gently toasting under the grill, silky mouth feel. Lingering and sweet finish.
I’ve tried both the 12 year old version and this non age statement expression. Its hard to do a comparison over a two year separation, but from my memory and notes I wrote at the time the general soul of this dram is very much still present, I think. Maybe it’s just my head playing tricks on me, but this dram feels younger and I think I preferred the version with a confirmed age statement… but that could just be a trick of the mind. It is a sound, competent whisky. Some may be put off by the over-referenced sweetness, but it is that by design. For around £55 it no bank breaker and is a nice dram to sip. Have I had better Sauternes-matured whiskies? I think I have. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Regret buying it? No.