A quick dram: Glenmorangie Companta


Apart from whisky, one of my main passions, and at times bain, of my life is football. From going to see my first game with my Dad when I was four (Hibs beating Hearts, a highly unusual event at the time) to playing football constantly in my teenage years, to travelling the length and breadth of the country watching it, football has been a constant in my life. I try not to mention it often in the company of non-football fans, as it’s dreadfully dull if you are not into it, hence why I rarely mention it on this blog.

I suppose the reason I bring it up, is that football clubs these days tend to have a philosophy. An overarching mission statement, going from youth team, up to first team. Spanning how they train, how they play and who they sign. Barcelona, for example, perfected the possession and pressing game. Stoke at one point perfected the long ball game. Other teams aim to perfect the passing, possession game (nobody could hope to emulate Stoke’s long ball game). Liverpool, for example, recently lost a goal due to a horrendous misplaced pass by one of their defenders, and when their manager was asked if he was angry, he said no, as it is all part of them developing as a football team.

What I am getting towards here, is that every time I have listened to Dr. Bill Lumsden (Glenmorangie’s Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation)  talk about his plans for Glenmorangie he has spoken at length about wood management, and about his fascination with what the cask is seasoned with. This, for him, is the key way to influence Glenmorangie’s style, and is the direction he wants to take the whisky in (rather than, say, playing around with distillation or fermentation times). It’s not the only string to his bow (Signet was barley influenced, Finealta was smoked), but wood influence is a key theme throughout the range. He at times has sounded like the Brendan Rodgers or Roberto Martinez of whisky. Keen to espouse his beliefs about the topic he is passionate about. If you take a quick glance at their releases (Super Tuscan Red matured or New Oak matured for example) you’ll see that this is one of the ideas he will continue with. Last time we spoke, he even mentioned a whisky that had not gone to plan (a Tokaji finish) and that shows that even the great managers occasionally get one wrong (Juan Sebastian Veron at Man Utd, if you will).

Companta continues this philosophy, as it is essentially Glenmorangie 10 that has been extra matured (I would say extra matured, rather than finished, as it is quite a period of time extra in the secondary casks) in red Burgundy casks and Rasteau casks from the Cotes Du Rhone (Rasteau has similarities to Port). Bill personally sources the oak for the Glenmorangie 10, and has done the same with the ex-wine casks for Companta. So does it work, or is it the unfortunate mistaken pass?

Glenmorangie Companta
French Red & French Fortified Casks
46% ABV

Nose: Raspberries, blackcurrant, some leather, dark chocolate, candy floss, cherries and cinnamon. Ginger, cake mix and a slight meatiness. It is lovely, fresh, layered and challenging.

Palate: Juicy front palate, blackcurrant, plum, more tannins, complexity. Black Forest Gateaux. Nice oakiness.

Overall: Yummy. It’s very well made.

It concentrates the good points of red wine matured whisky; complexity, juiciness, tannins, chocolate but it leaves behind the flaws.

On another point, it seems Glenmorangie is becoming more collectable. For years, it seemed it was behind Ardbeg in terms of how collectable it is. It certainly isn’t near Ardbeg levels yet, but Ealanta attained sought after status, and Companta has sold at quite a pace and created a bit of buzz.

Chris Hoban


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