about the sensational skill in the selection and handling of the finishings. Glenmorangie
is still mostly matured in oak casks from the Ozarks which have held bourbon for four
years, but it bottles at ten, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, 21 and 24 years - plus it has vari-
ous vintage-dated bottlings. It has Ruby port, dry Oloroso and Fino sherry and Malmsey
Madiera finishes (and has had other special finishes, for example in Malaga barrels), plus
various other limited editions like the Claret, Tain Hermitage and Côte de Beaune red
wine finishes, not to mention the cask-strength unfiltered Traditional. It even has expres-
sions specific to one warehouse; cellar 13, the one nearest the coast.
Heady, almost bewildering stuff. But it's this willingness to experiment that marks
Glenmorangie out as one of the most important and innovative whisky makers, and one of
the least stuffy, too. The whisky itself might almost get lost inside this all-over-the-place
promiscuity if it wasn't a beautifully structured, complex and yet delicate dram in its own
right. There's a lightness of touch and yet a strength in depth about Glenmorangie, a sort
of finesse in its subtle mixture of flavours that allows it to mix with all these other influ-
ences without either bullying them into submission or being over-run by their flavours.
Glenmorangie is unusual in having to deal with atypically - for Scotland - hard water,
from the Tarlogie springs. Quite a lot of salt has to be added to make it suitable for whisky
production, just as you have to add salt to dishwashers in hard-water areas, and it's an
indication of how the balance of control is weighted between production water and the
subsequent influence of the barrels and warehousing that nobody has ever accused Glen-
morangie of having more than the faintest trace of saltiness to it, unless it's a still fairly
subtle flavour imbued from that close-to-the-waves cellar thirteen.
A sequence of smart advertising campaigns - the whole Sixteen Men of Tain thing,
and the Glen of Tranquillity series - has kept Glenmorangie in the public eye over the
years, and its position as one of the market leaders is entirely justified; an unfailingly
intriguing and satisfying selection of whiskies. If you were stuck on a desert island and
could only drink the output from one distillery, this would have to be prime contender;
another might be Bowmore (plus, if you're me, Laphroaig), though, of course we still
have Macallan waiting in the wings.
Perfect Dram? Best Distillery? I may have to widen my brief unilaterally.
I should point out that throughout all this - the last few chapters and the last few
weeks - I'm still making my inquiries (discreet inquiries, too, at least by my standards)
regarding the whole secret still/peatreek thing. I'm afraid, however, that so far I'm not
meeting with much success. Actually so far I'm not meeting with any success. Despite
this, I remain undismayed. I have a feeling it's one of those matters where you work away
for ages with no result, no change, no progress whatsoever and then suddenly everything
happens at once and it all comes right and you meet with total success just when you least