An 18-year-old single malt is a spirit for special moments, and Glenmorangie, a distiller with attention to special details. Glenmorangie owns the tallest stills in Scotland (adding to lightness of taste) and they own around 600 acres of land around the distillery (to help prevent water pollution). There’s also the lauded Sixteen Men of Tain, the distillery’s staff of 16, who work year-round and help produce, consistently, whiskey of note. Glenmorangie does things specially, and the 18 Year is just one bottle in point.
A stippled and textured gold box provokes anticipation prior to seeing the bottle secured within, and Glenmorangie also takes the bottle drama up a notch by using a more rounded shoulder and a trumpeting cork. The Highland distillery dresses the single malt appropriately, since at this price, the bottle should set itself apart visually from younger versions.
The honey-amber liquid inside isn’t very dark, but the Scotch isn’t cask strength or deeply sherried. The Glen 18 spends a full 15 years in American white oak casks, then a portion of it makes its way to Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks for three more years. When both age a full 18 years, they’re reunited to make the Extremely Rare. It coats the inside of the glass evenly. The nose is warm, welcoming and pronounced with easily recognizable dried fruit, a bit of honey and floral notes. It’s consistent with the color, with nothing stark or overpowering.
It’s an incredibly easy whisky to drink neat and thus becomes a beloved member of the home bar cart, more so than something with heavy peat or excessive strength.
The first sip is completely smooth and balanced in the mid palate and delivers orange, honey, vanilla and some nice woodiness and nuttiness. There’s also a sweetness that largely only shows up halfway through, and there’s virtually no alcoholic burn. As much as I like to experience Scotch and bourbon neat, I sometimes choose to cut the alcohol burn or open up the bouquet with a light splash of water. That’s totally unnecessary here.
The smoothness and balance are the 18’s best traits; it’s incredibly drinkable. Flavors and scents ride through on a creamy undercurrent, among them a pleasant and complex floral scent that nicely matches more citrusy (but not sour) flavors, enhancing the whole experience. Though the finish has been described as short by some, my tasting fell more on the medium-but-not-unpleasant side — a bit dry, but capped off by those woody notes.
It’s an incredibly easy whisky to drink neat and thus becomes a beloved member of the home bar cart, more so than a heavily peaty or excessively strong selection. It has enough character and complexity to be a liquid worthy of the “Extremely Rare” designation, and for this bottle of Scotch, the Men of Tain have done well.