Glenmorangie: Quinta Ruban (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronze.

Nose: Heavy. Marzipan. Almond slices. Fruitcake in a mix of cherries and raisins. Rich red wine. Pencil shavings. Light floral notes. Lemon pancakes. Loses a bit of weight with water.

Body: Heavy again. Some fire and charring. Almond slice. Tangerine. Malt drinks. Cherry liquore centred bitter chocolate. Port. Water smoothes to orange liquore with custard and sweet chocolate.

Finish: Oak. Bitter luxury chocolate and chocolate orange. Charring. Orange crème when you add water.  A mix of raisins and sherry trifle as well.

Conclusion: Ouch, this one has just a touch of a kick doesn’t it? Not insanely so, but much more than I would normally expect from a decent single malt.

What it brings with it is a very vibrant, rich and sweet whisky, but also fiery and with charring coming through. Heavy in aroma and body. The aroma sinks into the glass close over the liquid and seems to roll from a freshly opened bottle.

Water can remove the fire, and doing this extends the finish from bitter chocolate orange to sweet orange crème and liquore. This is lovely but you loose the sheer weight of the aroma by doing so. So you lose the fruit, marzipan and red wine that are by far the best part of the whisky.

Similarly water makes for a sweet chocolate cream centre and fruitcake body, much more easy going than the base raw bitter chocolate and cherry that comes through neat. The flavour and aroma are better neat, but the fire makes it hard to appreciate. The whisky as a whole is much better with water.

So I would say, take your time, nurse the wonderful aroma and take a few sips in its native fiery state, but enjoy it for the most part with water. The extra fire when neat is unwelcome, and the flavours are not subtle for the most part. It is a pity as the extra port flavours do seem to complement the base Glenmorangie well.

It is a whisky that both gains and loses more than most with water. It is cheery and vibrant but can’t quite get the balance right either with or without water. Enjoyable, big, but doesn’t provide enough of a united front of flavour to become a great whisky.

Background: Second in a set of four 10cl bottles, a nice little pack for sampling the Glenmorangie range. So far I have found the odder expressions of the spirit far better than the base, so have been looking forwards to trying these. This spent the last two years in port pipes.