Tuesday, 14 June 2016

More Adventures With Glenmorangie Original

More Adventures with Glenmorangie Original
There are some brands of spirit that, for whatever reason, have more than a walk-on part in your spiritual journey. Glenmorangie Original is one of those. You can understand it really; it’s reasonably priced, well known, well regarded and popular. It is also a favourite of my father-in-law. It’s his only favourite actually.

This time around Glenmorangie Original enters the play in Act One. Mr and Mrs Cake are holding a housewarming party and all their friends are there. All have brought booze. Some have brought booze as gifts. One such gift from one of Mr Cake’s golf friends is a bottle of Glenmorangie Original. Mr Cake decides to keep it until he has something that he wants to compare it with.

More stuff happens that isn’t related to Glenmorangie Original, but then at the beginning of Act Two, Mr Cake hears that his father-in-law (and wife) is about to come over for a visit, and knowing that this was his favourite, decides to open it when he arrives.

The father-in-law arrives and Mr Cake directs him to the Glenmorangie Original and says “help yourself to top-ups”.

Let me just break the fourth wall here and make sure you’re aware that the play being described here isn’t a play at all. It’s what really happened and I’m just trying to tell the story in a slightly more interesting way. Here’s what happened next.

My father-in-law proceeded to help himself to top-ups with alarming regularity over the next day and a half, until he’d actually drank about half the bottle. What the actual fuck? I’m not saying I didn’t actually mean “help yourself”, but I thought there was a kind of unspoken agreement that you’re supposed to hold yourself back a little bit. Obviously not. The good thing about this is that I can up my daily drinking game quite significantly and still come out looking conservative (small c) compared to my wife’s dad.

Anyway, a few days after he left, I decided to have a glass myself and get reacquainted – just in case he came back and finished the bottle off before I got a chance – so here’s a chance to let the weight of experience settle and see if my thoughts have changed – because, as you know, I like to take a long term view of spirits, considering them over a lifetime instead of over a glass; writing about them anecdotally instead of analytically; allowing a story to evolve instead of setting my thoughts in stone; evaluating them on a deeper (though admittedly less knowledgable or scientific) level than a list of flavours and a score out of 100.

I figured I’d better have a look over things I’ve written about it previously first, just to see what my original thoughts were. I can see there was a disappointing occasion when I drank it alongside a glass of The Famous Grouse and couldn’t tell them apart, describing both as bland and watery. I figured it must have been compromised in some way. This is in no way to suggest that The Famous Grouse is indistinguishable from any single malt or that it is better than the Glenmorangie Original – it was just an impression at the time, perhaps due to the influence of having drunk or eaten something confusing beforehand.

Later I compared it to a Strathisla 12, and concluded that the Glenmorangie had more repeat allure. Then I was drinking it alongside Talisker 10, and enjoying the Glenmorangie more. So I seem to recall that I was prepared for a Kellogs Corn Flakes moment – you know; “Have you forgotten how good they taste?”.

On my first taste this time around, I thought that I might have undervalued it and immediately considered bumping it up from 18th to 7th in my all time single malts list, behind the 32year old Bunnahabhain and ahead of the 14 year old ArranSherry Cask 1997, as I had found it light, fruity and playful – just really enjoyable. But then something strange happened. On succeeding occasions it seemed to have settled into an almost uninteresting blandness. There are no intriguing edges and the overall flavour is far less in your face than I would have my whisky by choice. I reconsidered again, and now it sits at 23rd. That’s lower than it was originally, but this can partly be explained by some new entries being rated better than it in the meantime. Though that doesn’t explain how it is now ranked lower than the Talisker 10 I’d preferred it to previously. What explains that is that this hierarchy is arbitrary and prone to rearrangement at the drop of a hat. In my defence, I bet even Jim Murray looks at his past ratings and goes “23 for balance? I should make that 21”.

Now that that bottle is finished, I can conclude that Glenmorangie Original is still probably the easiest drinking single malt scotch you can get, but I need more from my scotch. And that is why I will try some more Glenmorangies in future, but I won’t be buying the Original again – unless the father-in-law is visiting (we learned long ago not to try getting him anything else). Easy drinking just isn’t on my list of criteria.


Curiously there is a third act to this play. Inbetween starting this post and getting around to posting it, Mr Cake’s father-in-law (and wife) came for another visit. This time Mrs Cake just straight out bought her dad a bottle of Glenmorangie Original and gave it to him as a birthday present. They stayed longer, and drank only a little bit more than last time – ultimately leaving about a quarter of a bottle behind. So I guess I’ll be drinking a bit more of this stuff after all. Mind you, I don’t really think of it as mine, so I’ve only had one glass so far. Don’t worry though; I don’t think I’ll be dedicating any more posts to it.

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