I was approached and asked by the local N. Texas MHUSA team to be their part-time Glenmorangie and Ardbeg ambassador in early 2008 and held this position for close to four years while working full-time as a senior manager for Glazers; one of the countries largest beverage alcohol distributors. Before holding this position, during and after I have been fortunate to visit Glenmorangie on 3 of my 5 distillery trips to Scotland; my 51st state!
A few relevant facts:
Glenmorangie; Est 1843 is Gaelic for the "Valley of Tranquility".
During transition from brewery to distillery their first set of stills were purchased at a scrap yard which were previously used to distill Gin and were 16' 10 1/4".
Today Glenmorangie's stills remain at 16' 10 1/4"; the tallest stills in Scotland. 6 sets of stills exist today with the capacity to distill 6 million liters a year.
Glenmorangie has been the #1 selling single malt in Scotland for 50+ years.
16 work at the distillery; they are known as the 16 Men of Tain and this number has remained the same for generations. Yes; their have been times it's been the 16 Men and Women of Tain.
They were the first distillery to go deep into wood experimentation and have their own forest land in the Ozark's in Missouri. The white oak is cut into staves and air dried outside for 2 years; then the barrels are used for bourbon and Tennessee whiskey maturation. After a minimum of four years maturation at various Kentucky and Tennessee distilleries the barrels are taken whole to their distillery in Tain located in Northern Scotland. Used Port, Sherry, Sauterne, Virgin American oak and other oak are also in their maturation pipeline. They will only use American oak twice for maturation and then sell the barrels to other distilleries needing barrels or discard.
A few examples:
The Glenmorangie 10 year is matured in 100% ex American oak.
The Glenmorangie Lasanta 12y is matured in 100% ex American oak for 10 years and 2 years in ex. Sherry oak. Lasanta is Gaelic for "warm and passion"
The Glenmorangie Nectar d' Or 12y is matured in 100% ex. American oak for 10 years and 2 years in ex Sauterne barrels from Bordeaux. Nectar was the drink of the Gods and Or is Gaelic and French for "gold".
Tarlogie Springs is the water source and sits across the A9 from the distillery. The sandstone and limestone minerals give Glenmorangie its hard water needs and bubbles up to the surface after hundreds of years below ground.
A few other distillery takeaways -
5 Mash Men.
30 + mashes per week.
60 hour fermentation.
5 Still Men.
Number of barrels filled daily for maturation will vary. Example; Monday 330 & Tuesday 300.
Over 20 maturation warehouses containing 190,000 + barrels.
My favorite tour and one of my 5 favorite distilleries in Scotland!
Dalmore Est 1839 is Gaelic for "The Big Meadow" or "Big Field"
Their 4 sets stills are known as the Big Bastards - large & the Wee Ones - small!
Several years ago I visited Dalmore and had a nice 2 hour private tour along with walking the whole property and taking countless pictures for a few hours. During the tour I nearly cracked my head open after going through to visit the wash-backs; my guide told me to step down to the yeast closet to view and when stepping back up I ran right into the steel I-beam. I am 6'3" and the guide stated - sorry mate I should have told to duck! Needless to say I saw stars and was briefly stunned. He also stated one of the workers in the 50's died after being overcome with the effects of their yeast.
A few nice takeaways from my visit:
90% of Dalmore's production goes into blends with the remaining 10% bottled as Dalmore's many expressions
4 Mash Men
23 Mashes per week
8 Wash-Backs are Oregon Pine and are 80+ years old
50 hour fermentation
4 Still Men
Water jackets on their stills cool down the spirit quicker.
From the still to barrel @ 63.5 ABV
Number of barrels filled daily for maturation will vary
One of my favorite tours and distilleries!