Today it’s a face off between the crème de la crème of the Glenmorangie core range - the Signet, and the entry point to Glenmorangie - The Original 10yo. Is the Signet worth the extra cost?
Glenmorangie The Original 10yo
The Original is matured for at least 10 years in first and second-fill American ex-bourbon casks, including, air-dried bespoke “designer casks” from Missouri.
On our initial sniff we’re getting toasted bread, apple juice, and nectarines. Going back to it after some air and there’s some vanilla pods, ginger, peaches, cold butter, and baking spices. It’s a pleasant fruit forward nose that shows some promise.
What hits us first is the sweetness of the dram, there’s some strawberries and cream, alongside vanilla, and orange juice. Next comes a touch of spice and heat in the form of chilli and sugared ginger. The taste then transitions to some peppery spice and dark chocolate on a very long finish. The palate is a touch thin, but this is much better than most whiskies at 40%. Although, as we go back to it we’re noticing a slight bitter note towards the end of the finish.
Nose (with water)
We were expecting water to destroy the nose, but it’s still very pleasant and in addition to the above notes we’re able to detect some icing sugar, and apple turnover cake. Going back to it and we notice more spice and a honey note.
Palate (with water)
While water didn’t ruin the nose, it’s put us off the palate slightly. We’re now getting much more dark chocolate and a bitter coffee like notes on the mid palate. The bitterness dissipated to leave a good length finish with lots of sweet vanilla hanging around. The mouth feel remains thin, but with some creaminess there which was unexpected.
We’ve noticed a distinct reduction in quality in core range bottles from most distilleries over the past few years, and because of this we weren’t expecting much from the 10yo. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised. While not without its flaws it holds up well against other bottles in its price range, and sets a reasonable high bar for the signet. We’re giving this a 8/10.
Produced from two unique types of malted barley: a single estate Cadboll variety and malted chocolate barley, the two spirits are matured in a variety of casks including ex-sherry casks, and charred, new-oak barrels before being marred together to create Signet.
The nose opens with an almost rye like sweetness. It’s followed by Irn Bru, prune juice and tangerines. Going back to it and there’s some golden syrup, honey, orange peel and nutmeg. It’s a more interesting and complex nose than the 10yo, and we find as we keep coming back to it you’ll keep discovering something new.
It's very chocolate forward on the palate initially and we’re reminded of milk chocolate coins. Following after the chocolate there’s some citrus sweetness. It’s got a good length finish with ginger, simple syrup and coffee lingering on the tongue. Going back to it after some air and there’s spicy note of chilli, some bitterness from dark chocolate, and passionfruit syrup, The palate has massively benefitted from the extra 6% ABV and we’re finding the mouthfeel much more syrupy and enjoyable.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out cream, dark chocolate and coffee. Going back to it and there some cinnamon, treacle, oak and cloves. Personally we prefer the nose without water as some of the sweetness has been pushed into the background, but it’s held up well to the addition of a few drops.
Palate (with water)
Water has opened this up a little and we’re now getting a strong note of melted milk chocolate, and sweet vanilla initially, but we’re also finding water has also made this significantly more spicy. The finish remains a good length as does the mouthfeel. Personally, we prefer this without water.
It’s been a few years since we tried this, and we did wonder if it would be as good as we remembered. Fortunately the answer is yes. Unfortunately, it’s also a fair few quid more expensive.
So does it beat the 10yo? Absolutely. But would we pay the extra? ... Yes, if we were limited to distilleries own bottlings we would, it would be in our rotation of more expensive bottles to drink occasionally, but as we’re not limited we’d rather take the £150+ and spend it on interesting releases from a reputable independent bottlers. Even still it’s hard to deny the quality we’ll give this a 8/10, beating the 10yo for us.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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