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Glenmorangie Companta Private Edition

Average score from 4 reviews and 4 ratings 83

Glenmorangie Companta Private Edition

Product details

  • Brand: Glenmorangie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • Series: Private Edition
  • ABV: 46.0%

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Glenmorangie Companta Private Edition

Now let me tell you this. I first heard of sulphur in whiskies from Jim Murray a few years ago and he made such huge deal about it that I was literally looking over my shoulder to see when sulphur would attack.

But then as I kept tasting 'tainted' whiskies I couldn't really tell if they were truly sulphured or not. Jim certainly seemed to think so but I wasn't too sure. Then after doing some research I found out that you had to be genetically inclined to be sensitive to sulphur and more than a third of the worlds' population was not so.

I, therefore, assumed that I was one of the third and if I could not detect sulphur then so be it. In fact I was kind of glad. What spoilt whiskies for some would have no effect on me.

That is, until now.

After sitting for a month in an open bottle with no hint of anything sulphured (even though Jim in his 2015 Bible murdered this expression) I took it out to finally write this review.

This was an absolute disaster. What seemingly tasted decent when first opened had taken on the air of a spent canon. So strong was the sulphur that I barely had the chance to identify anything else.

OK, enough about the sulphur. Here is some info on what this whisky constitutes.

Vatting of standard 9 year-old ex-bourbon Glenmorangie finished for 5 years in red Grand Cru Burgundy wine casks from Clos de Tart (from Pinot Noir grapes), with a similar 10 year-old Glenmorangie finished for 8 years in a sweet fortified wine from Cotes du Rhone called Rasteau, made from Grenache grapes. The vatting contains 60% of the first, and 40% of the second.

My sample is from an open bottle and served at 46%

Nose: Underneath the flint, gunsmoke and spent matches there is some chocolate and red grapes. But that is all lost to the spectacular smell of a grand fireworks display.

Palate: I couldn't finish this dram. Something metallic coated my mouth and would not let go.

Finish: Metallic.

I am really shocked at how this whisky had turned after a month oxidizing. The sulphur, I guess, was always there and just needed a bit of air to bring it out.

At least now I know I am part of the two-thirds majority that can smell sulphur. And I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

This review makes me eager to re-taste the bottle of Companta with which I am familiar. I reviewed it early after opening the bottle, and, like you, didn't notice sulphur at that point. Sometimes the sulphur is much more obvious after the bottle has taken some air.

I've had three bottles of Companta with no issues. In fact they improved some with time, which extended over months. Maybe yours had some taint that "bloomed" with air exposure? Yours is a bit weird of a circumstance as any sulphurous nose or taste I've come across in a sherried whisky decreased with air time.


Is it as complex as the title...?

I have enjoyed most of Glenmorangie's Private Editions, and I especially looked forward to the Companta after reading early tasting notes. Since the malt did not taste quite as I expected, and because you may not find a reasonably priced bottle, I will lengthen my review to more fully convey the experience. In short: yes the Companta is complex, as often depicted, but it is drier than you might infer from the 'fruits & chocolate' descriptions appearing elsewhere. You should really try to taste a sample of this one, before splurging at an inflated price.

The experience shifts with time, so I’ll cover different time-points of a poured glass; and then I will also describe the bottle after it has improved from oxidation.

Color: Let's get this straight. The tone might seem reddER than standard scotch, but it is silly to call it “cherry red”, by any objective measure. Put an actual cherry red placard next to a dram of the Companta, and you'll see that this terminology is ridiculous. After all, it is still a "brown spirit". It is, simply, an orange-brown shade of copper.

Notes from the fresh bottle (Score 85):

“Cold Nose”: Strawberry vanilla ice cream.

Nose: Raspberry jam and cracked black peppercorns. Later, some subtle cocoa powder. (The peppercorns resemble dried twigs and pine-needles; and a slow inhale is soil-and-roots “earthy”.)
Development: Becomes creamier and less peppery. Cocoa and creamsicle emerge by 20 minutes, along with accents of orange zest and spearmint. A mushroomy vanilla appears by 30 minutes. I like the nose, but it evokes more intrigue than raw enjoyment, requiring maybe 45 minutes to bring most value.

Palate: Enters with apricot/sour-cherry/raspberry on the tongue, and dry black-pepper (twigs) in the cheeks. Then almost no fruit: Instead, a battle between tongue-tip smoothness (tobacco-strands/cocoa/malt) and raw, hard, organic tannins elsewhere (the cheeks and back of tongue)— rather like sarsaparilla and (dried) black limes. You could think muscovado flavors, but in fact it's very dry.
Development: Similar but smoother after 20 minutes. Less peppercorn, more creamsicle and sarsaparilla, plus vague mushroom umami towards the finish. The hard tannins resolve now to allspice and juniper/coniferous forest-spices.

Finish: Pine and black pepper throughout the back and nose. Tannic raspberry vanilla on the tongue.
Development: Similar but softer after 20 minutes; more like clove and leathery/earthy tobacco. Minutes after sipping, mushroom/tobacco-strand remains on the tongue.

Overall: For those who would most appreciate this, the Companta’s main point of intrigue is not wine-sourced fruits, but rather the unusual "forest spice" elements.

Notes from opened bottle, kept 80% full from 1 week up to 3 months:

Nose: Light and creamy. Compote of strawberry/rhubarb/raspberry dusted with cocoa powder; and root beer float, with detectable spearmint. Dynamic and Excellent.
Compared to the fresh bottle: Now, the vanilla-laden scents dominate from the start— whereas the originally prominent raspberry-jam and peppercorn/twigs (and trace mushroom) now appear only in built-up vapors, inhaled slowly (I am glad they can still be accessed); otherwise these have now softened to cocoa and sarsaparilla. Overall, oxidation was a positive development— less pricklingly spicy, and rather thicker (and sweeter).

Palate: Enters citric strawberry/apricot on the tongue; and as soon as the spirit hits your soft-palate, it gets peppery/twiggy raspberry, prickly and drying. This continues: the tongue tip feels the smoother fruits mostly, but elsewhere (cheeks/soft-palate/nose) it’s that challenging set of tannins. As the glass breathes, these tannins tame into gentler cocoa/clove/sarsaparilla.

The interplay and oscillation, of berries on the tongue and drying peppercorn elsewhere, are what give the Companta its complexity. For my ideal preferences, the peppery dryness is still excessive, but it is partly compensated by the high quality of the rest of the experience.

Finish: Dried cheeks from tannins (peppercorn and grape skin); a sensation of sarsaparilla around; plus tobacco (and vanilla) in the throat.

I was not comfortable to recommend owning the fresh bottle; but I can recommend the aged one. This malt’s development has probably plateaued; I had also left a half-filled sample vial to oxidize for the three months, and it provides exactly the same experience. Compared to a pour from the brand new bottle left for 45 minutes, the months-old bottle is fruitier on the tongue and the experience is overall softer— which for me was a needed improvement.


Yes, this is challenging and complex, and it is an acceptably good addition to Glenmorangie’s prestigious Private Edition series. However, it is not the malt-of-my-dreams that I expected on the basis of marketing and early reviews. This is not a cherries and chocolate treat that happens to have accenting forest spices; it is also not the wine-finished conjugate of Glenmorangie’s Sonnalta. Instead it is a dry, tannic malt, more for pondering than for hedonism.


Along with many others, I really enjoyed Glenmorangie’s earlier wine-finished expression, the Artein (which I think should be called “Artanta”). So I was looking for a good comparative assessment; here’s mine: I can recognize Artein-related elements in the Companta, for sure (raspberry and vanilla, and even mint), especially the nose. And the tongue even picks out similar fruits. But if the Artein was raspberry with "light" tones (vanilla, custard, apple), then the Companta is raspberry with “darker”, spiced tones (peppercorn, sarsaparilla, clove). I find that I assign the same overall rating to the two, so the difference is really about mood: will you take light custard or will you focus on dry complexities? I can foresee wanting the Artein as my late-summer malt, and wanting the darker Companta notes to complement the cool early-autumn air.


Aside from the less-dry Artein, the only similar malt I have experienced is Macallan’s Ruby expression. And they are actually quite similar. I recall the Ruby being lighter and more subtle, but they both share the unique pepper-and-red-fruit theme. The Ruby does have some different flavors: more grape and walnut, rather than sarsaparilla and tobacco. Both are excellent, but for me the Companta just barely wins, because the experience is richer rather than delicate. (The difference is at least partly due to weaker ABV.)

@vanPelt, I am loving the detail and Tender Loving Care which you are putting into these reviews. Bravo.

I am also continuously fascinated by the individuality of each reviewer's physical tasting experiences, neurological interpretation of those physical tasting experiences (choice of words to make associations and comparisons), and psychological and cultural overlays for interpreting those tasting experiences.

You and I both use the words "dry" and "tannic" in our descriptions of Glenmorangie Companta. Otherwise we have little or no overlap of words chosen to describe this product. One example is your description of 'cocoa' flavours. With the exception of Glenmorangie Signet, I would almost never choose either cocoa or chocolate to describe flavours I have encountered in a malt whisky.

On comparison with Artein, I don't see much in common with Companta. To my palate Artein is strongly citrusy from start to finish, something I just don't get from Companta at all.

I am very curious to continue to observe Companta as the bottle takes on more air. It can scarcely get drier than it already is. Maybe it will develop a little counterbalancing sweetness, given a few months of air time. That would be an intriguing development, quite interesting, and quite a change in Companta's overall balance.

Thanks much for the comment, @Victor , and for provoking interesting discussion— as usual! You and I have dialogued before about specificity of tastes. I know that you and I do taste things differently (you found apple in the Ealanta; I found orange-pineapple more particularly). Nevertheless, I usually tend to agree with you about whether the symphony was good and why— even if you think the solo was a french horn and I think it was a trombone! Especially your comments about quality: e.g. the degree of coherence, the nose being the best part, etc.…

Yes, palate subjectivity is both perplexing and fascinating— but most of all tough for a reviewer! You’ve said we can’t transfer all our sensations electronically, and that readers must learn each reviewer’s ‘language’. I agree! But I still prefer specifics because the reader can always generalize. For example, I write ‘cocoa’ here and in other reviews (because I do experience tannic unsweetened “cocoa powder”); but if a reader finds that my tastes are not so aligned, then he/she can just read it as ‘tannic’. (Have you bitten into pure baking chocolate?) This is where individual language is important: when I first read Signet reviews, I thought reviewers meant ‘dark’ chocolate (that’s all I eat). That misled me, because the Signet is actually much more ‘milk’-chocolate. I will always specify, in those cases (3-4 cases, I think). Anyway, I do NOT ever expect outright agreement! But I’d like to think that if you sat down and tasted while reading my descriptions, you could at least “see where I’m coming from.” (Otherwise the detail you say you love is moot!)

I can see, now, that my Artein comparison focused too much on similarities, because I was trying to say that it had ONLY those similarities. The Companta ‘dark’-side definitely dominates. But regarding “citrusy”: I think that is something you can anticipate to develop with time, so maybe you’ll eventually see more apparent similarities. I’ll certainly look forward to your reflections after some “air time!”

In the end, I’m just happy if you get something from my TLC ;-)


Glenmorangie's been getting a bit of airtime recently thanks to a certain Mr Jim Murray for naming their Ealanta his whisky of the year. Now let me tell you something. I don't mind Jims' choices but this one was way off the mark.

Then I heard about the Companta doing the rounds and getting some rave reviews. So I was excited when one of the members of my whisky club decided to serve this at one of our tastings.

Inspired by Dr Bill’s travels across France’s greatest vineyards The Companta is a result of a mix of spirit extra matured in Grand Cru casks from Clos de Tart and those of a sweet fortified wine from Côtes du Rhône.

Nose: It's quite interesting. Carries a lot of tannins to begin with. And with it a bunch of cherries served atop a sponge cake and drizzled with rose water infused with crushed black peppers. Initially there is a dry yeasty aroma which dissipates with time and oxygen.

Palate: Could have been sensational but it chose not to. Lots of red fruits, dark berries and fortified cherry liquor. This is accompanied by woody black pepper and clove spices.

Finish: Decently long and lingering with a woody chocolate tannin quality.

Once again I am a victim of over hype. I had convinced my self that this spirit was going to be sublime. Instead it was quite good, at best.

Thanks for this review. I am still analyzing mine, but this very much echoes my first impressions-- both the descriptions and the emotional reaction!


Companta, gaelic for 'friendship', is the fifth Glenmorangie Private Edition release, following Sonnalta PX, Finealta, Artein, and Ealanta

Companta has been finished in a combination of wine casks from Clos de Tart and Cotes du Rhone

The reviewed bottle has been open for 13 days and is 90% full

Colour: dark for a malt, with a reddish hue

Nose: strong intensity of raisin, mostly, and also prune. This possesses a very nice balance of sweet and dry, but settling slightly to the dry side. The fruity flavours of wine are what dominate the experience. The wine flavours are mostly on the low side of the middle range in pitch, but there are a few very entertaining, and balancing, pitches here which are high soprano as well. To smell malt you have to look for it. A little water brought out beautiful floral notes of rose, but the fruit receded. Lovely

Taste: very grape-winey, and much drier on the palate than in the nose. Some sweetness emerges in a later wave to counter the quite dry initial greeting. Significant grape tannins are present. Once again, as in the nose, this is all about the wine cask finishing, which dominates this whisky in all respects. Palatal notes are mostly alto and baritone. There are some soprano notes, but fewer than in the nose, unfortunately. Drinking this could be seen more as a wine experience than as one of consuming barley-malt whisky. The quality of the grape flavours is nice, if you like a lot of tannin in your wine-d whisky. For me the tannins are a little heavier than I like

Adding water reduced and diluted the coherence of the wine flavours, and I do not recommend it

Finish: on a thick chewy very tannic block of grape wine skin. With water the finish is not great--like bad dilute over-oxidised wine

Balance: Companta is a very nice whisky which will appeal mostly to those who like their barley-malt to taste more like wine than like the grain barley which defines the drink as whisky. The flavours here alternate between crisp/pointed and rounded, with the wine always dominating. The nose is the highlight for me, both with and without water added. I don't like to DRINK this with water, AT ALL

As Glenmorangie Private Editions go, Companta is one I am always happy to drink, but one of which I do not feel the need to buy my own bottle. Usually I like my whisky to taste more like whisky than Companta does

Lovely review! I finally finished my bottle (minus a couple of tasters squirreled away), and have had a few days to reflect. I was surprised by the extent of the dryness, and the spice / tannin notes. I was expecting something much sweeter. The Glenmo is really hidden in this one. I agree, this is much more about wine, much more so than their Artein. And the color! This whisky stains the glass with remnants. By that I mean, if there is just a small bit remaining, it will dry to a crusty brown...Sort of off-putting. While it was an interesting drink*, it is not one that I would buy again either.

*I actually envision a circle of people deeply nosing this, musing aloud "interesting..."

@Onibubba, while I thought at times about 'spice' while drinking Companta I managed to write the review without using the word 'spice' at all. Between the dry fruitiness and the touch of spiciness Glenmorangie Companta has some interesting and odd parallels to a dry US Rye whiskey. When I first drank it, I thought, "This is dry like a rye." Despite the parallels, and a bit of a double-take, it would be hard to mistake one for the other if you looked closely.

This reviewed bottle was not my own. My sister also buys a lot of whisky, and happily I have open access to her bottles.

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