Glenmorangie Distillery is situated in the North West Highlands at Cadboll just outside of Tain, about 40 kilometres north of Inverness. The Name Glenmorangie is derived from the Glen of the Morangie Burn which means ‘glen of great tranquillity’. The distillery received its licence in 1843 but by that time whisky had probably been produced in the area for at least 250 years. The distillery was originally a brewery but was converted into a distillery by its founders the Matheson brothers.
The distillery was refurbished in 1887 and at the same time the brothers formed the Glenmorangie Distillery Company. The refurbishment included an innovation which meant that the stills were redesigned to be steam-heated. The new technique eliminated the problem of the traditional open flame which sometimes caused particles at the bottom of the stills to be burnt. The innovation was soon picked up by several other distilleries.
In 1918 the distillery was sold to its largest customer, the blending company MacDonald & Muir Ltd. Glenmorangie was mothballed between 1931-1936 as a result of the US Prohibition and the 1929 Stock Market Crash. The distillery was expanded in 1970 and the capacity was doubled. Through an impressive development the distillery was able to double its capacity yet again in 1990 and now uses eight stills. The distillery underwent yet another change in 1996 when they changed the name to Glenmorangie PLC and moved the headquarters to a £12 million facility near Edinburgh airport. The complex houses a fully integrated cooperage, storage, blending and bottling facility. Administration, marketing and other functions also reside in the new complex. 1996 also saw the release of a new range of official bottlings called ‘wood finish’ with releases of whisky finished in Sherry, Port and Madeira casks.
The distillery has 16 employees, the ’Sixteen men of Tain’, who are mentioned on the labels of the wood finish bottlings. The men turn out 48 casks of whisky every day –most of which will be bottled as single malt whisky. Glenmorangie rarely if ever sell any casks to independent bottlers.
Production at Glenmorangie
The water used by Glenmorangie is very hard and rich in minerals. In fact, they have been forced to drill out limescale from the condenser pipes. The process water is drawn from the Tarlogie Springs, whose water is said to take more than 100 years to filter down to the springs.
Glenmorangie closed their malting facility in 1980 and the lightly peated malt (1-1.4 ppm) is bought from central malting companies. The mash tun and the eight washbacks are made from stainless steel. The eight boiling ball model stills are the tallest in Scotland with a height of 5.14 metres –the necks almost resemble pipes more then necks.
For their standard bottlings Glenmorangie exclusively use US casks from Missouri which have contained Kentucky Bourbon for four years. Since 1996 they have also experimented with several ‘finishes’ as for example Madeira and Port casks. All casks are stored in the 14 on site warehouses and bottling is done in the new large complex outside of Edinburgh. Glenmorangie is the second largest as well as the fastest growing single malt whisky in the UK.
Tain, Rossshire IV19 1PZ
Phone: +44 (0) 1862 892 477
Distillery Manager: Graham Eunoson
Visitors: Open all year round. Monday-Friday 10am-5pm. Between June-August also open on Saturday 10am-4pm and on Sunday 12am-4pm. Guided tours start every half hour during the summer. In the wintertime the tours start at 10.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Admission is £2.50 and is refundable on purchase in the gift shop over £16.