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Glenmorangie Signet

This is one hell of a show pony!

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@jdcookReview by @jdcook

23rd Feb 2011


Glenmorangie Signet
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

With my recent (good) impression of the current Glenmorangie range, and the way they are prepared to take a few risks and try a lot of experimentation to come up with unique new bottlings, naturally the flagship dram, the Signet, has been on my radar for a while. Nearly a year ago when I last visited my usual purchasing place in person (I buy online), the gents behind the counter said it was one of the few drams in the price range that is actually worth the money. Still, at around $275 a bottle, it was always something that I wanted, but I could never bring myself to fork out the money for. So when I noticed a $100 off sale on the Signet in their newsletter I decided (with permission from the boss, my wife) to take the plunge!

Apparently this is the result of several years of experimentation. According to various sources around the traps, a portion of the whisky is made from 'chocolate malt,' which is industry speak for malt that is kilned at a higher temperature. This is supposed to increase complexity, and emphasise caramel and vanilla notes. Most often it is used in mild dark ales and stouts that have a sweet edge. It also has some Cardboll barley malt in it, which is said to result in a creaminess. Matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and new lightly toasted Ozark American oak casks with no age statement. And while some of it is no doubt quite young, there are rumours that it contains some barrels that are up to 35 years old!

Blurb aside, on to the tasting!

The nose is thick, rich and luscious. Full of rich, dark chocolate, ground coffee beans, christmas cake, robust sherry, chunky marmalade. Hints of scotch finger biscuits, oak and cream. Cinnamon? Pears? A floral note? Oh wow! Really complex!

The taste is both creamy and syrupy. Really thick and mouth-filling. This whisky has texture! I don't normally take a lot of notice about how the whisky feels (as in the sensation of how it feels against the inside of my mouth), but this feels really luscious. Tastes of orange, chocolate, lightly roasted coffee, cinnamon, caramel and oak. It has a nuttiness to it as well. Hard to pin down, and takes several sips to get all the flavours, and it's not just the complexity, but the feel of the whisky keeps distracting me (in a good way)!

The finish is long, and spicier than the nose or the taste. The sweet chocolate, marmalade and nuttiness are there, but the sweet cinnamon has put its foot down and made its presence felt, giving this a tingly warmness that keeps the finish going for ages.

This is a bit out there, and very different. It must have taken a lot of attempts to get this to the point it's at. This feels like a whisky that has been tweaked, prodded and primped to within an inch of it's life, like a real show pony. But what a show pony it is!

So, yet another whisky coming out of Glenmorangie at the moment has impressed me! It's amazing what can happen when a large distillery is prepared to put some time effort and resources into experimentation with nearly every part of the process they use to make whisky!

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LeFrog commented

Lovely review JD and quite a score, certainly going on the wish list!

It is a very elegant looking whisky too.

13 years ago 0

Victor commented

Thanks for a great review, JD. Wow! Very enticing. I want a taste of this one, for sure. And it is a very beautiful looking colour and bottle!

13 years ago 0

Dellnola commented

This is something that I've wanted for a while as well. You'll get many great drams out of that bottle I'm sure. Great review, as usual, jdcook

13 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@LeFrog - The bottle and packaging are a lot of fun to look at, and they include a little flip picture booklet full of marketing speak (which irritated me a little, I like info, not mumbo-jumbo about how spiritual a whisky is), but yes, it looks very nice on the shelf!

@Victor - it is a very powerful and unique whisky - I can see some people not liking this as much as I have, because it is so different to pretty much everything else. If you like them big and sweet, and your palate doesn't mind something a bit different, you will like this one - a lot!

@Dellnola - I'll give out a couple of drams to friends, and plan on selfishly keeping the rest of the bottle for myself!

13 years ago 1Who liked this?

galg commented

Sounds like something worth tasting ;) good write up JD Slainte!

13 years ago 0

Pudge72 commented

Very well written review, as always JD...unfortunately so well written that I have to add it to my wishlist. :)

It's going in the "long-term goal" category as the bottle is not available in Ontario at this time. Based on the US$200 price that a store in Chicago is listing it for, if it does come to Ontario, my guess is that it will be in the Can$250 - $300 range (rightly so based on the reviews here).

13 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@galg - it certainly is!

@Pudge72 - I had it in pretty much the same category here until they knocked $100 off in a bit of a fire sale. The Australian dollar is roughly comparable to the Canadian one, so it was in the range you are talking about. If you can find a bar that has it, try it by the glass first! I can't wait until whisky retailers outside of Europe learn that they could move a lot more product if they were prepared to sell small tasters!

13 years ago 0

Pudge72 commented

Hear, Hear JD! I would be able to get immersed into the SMSW's much more easily/quickly if sample size or partial sized bottles were more readily available. In Ontario, the only 50 mL (single serving) SMSW is Glenlivet 12 ($4). After that you get to the 200 mL 'gift pack' style bottles. The only ones that fit that category are Cragganmore 12, Talisker 10 ($22 each), Oban 14 ($30) and Lagavulin 16 ($34). 375 mL bottles of Glenlivet 12 ($24) and Glenfiddich ($25) finish off the options for partial bottle products.

I guess it basically boils down to the mass producers (the Glens) being able to use a smaller bottle (I'm assuming the smaller bottles increase production costs) due to their market dominance, and Diageo having the marketing intelligence and financial clout to offer their product at an entry level price so that people can sample product (and potentially get hooked) in a much more accessible manner.

I'm still trying to figure out which, if any bars/restaurants in my area have a half decent SMSW selection. A couple have a handful of options, but most have the two Glens and not much else...sigh.

13 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@Pudge72 - it is happening in Europe, and I believe, from comments I hear around the traps that it is relatively successful, so it will wind it's way around the world. So give a half-dozen years and you should start seeing them, especially from big online distributors.

13 years ago 0

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