Does having a tall still affect the taste of whisky significantly? We ask Glenmorangie. 

Virtual everything seems to be the way to go, and that includes virtual whisky tasting. In conjunction with World Giraffe Day recently, Glenmorangie held a virtual tasting event with the brand’s Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks, Brendan McCarron. He led us through the tasting profiles of the brand’s top three signatures: The Original, The Lasanta, and The Quinta Ruban. 

The Original is the entry point of Glenmorangie. A 10-year-old whisky aged in bourbon casks, it has a nice balance of flavours — it has a floral citrus aroma and tasting notes of vanilla, stone fruits, and honey. For something a little older, try The Lasanta — a 12-year-old whisky that’s first aged in bourbon casks for the first 10 years and finished in new sherry casks from Spain. It’s sweeter than The Original, with flavours of stewed fruits and caramel with nuances of spice.

Finally, The Quinta Ruban is a 14-year-old whisky that McCarron himself recommends to use in an Old Fashioned cocktail. It’s aged in bourbon casks for 10 years and finished in ruby port casks from Portugal for another four years, which contributes to its deep hue. The whisky has flavours of dark chocolate orange oil, and toasted almonds.  

But beyond these three variants of single malt whisky, Glenmorangie also boasts the tallest pot stills in its distillery in Scotland — as tall as a giraffe, in fact. For the uninitiated, pot stills are a distillation apparatus normally used to distil liquors, such as whisky or cognac. These stills are typically made from copper, but its height and size vary within the different distilleries. 

Naturally, this means that its yields will also taste differently. But how different can they be? 

Glenmorangie’s Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks, Brendan McCarron.

Scientifically speaking

“Tall stills mean a slow distillation and lots of vapours running back down the neck in a process known as reflux,” says McCarron. “The huge amount of copper contact means we remove any heavy, oily off-notes resulting in an elevation of the fruity and floral flavours in the spirit we collect to mature.” 

It’s more than just aesthetics

“Our tall stills are definitely one of our most recognisable and famous features but they are absolutely key to making the fruity and floral spirit quality we are famous for.”

The tall stills shape the signature flavour profile of Glenmorangie

“Without a large amount of copper contact we would have some sulphur in our whisky,” explains McCarron. “As well as tasting unpleasant sulphur would mask some of the elegant sweet and fruity flavours of our spirit. So the tall stills are absolutely key making Glenmorangie taste so delicious.”

Well, now we know.

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.