Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch "The Quinta Ruban" 12 years


Nose (undiluted)
Orange peel, dark chocolate, faint hospital bandages with medicinal ointment, and freshly turned over, early morning, damp earth, as you hunt for worms for that fishing trip.

Palate (undiluted)
Rich, velvety, mouth filling body of loganberry, blackberries, raspberries.  Think Christmas fruitcake with lots of chunks of dark plum, raisins and dark cake bread.

Finish (undiluted)
Fantastic finish.  What started initially as sweet quickly became mouth watering, and then dry and by the time you swallow, you are left with dusty apricot and port wine notes.



















General Impressions
A few months ago, I wrote about my frustration with encountering mediocre after mediocre malt.  Had a real slump in my reviews.  I was in search of a new discovery.  Well, I have made a new discovery in the Glenmorangie 12 year old Quinta Ruban.

This 12 year old malt tastes much older than it is.  I feel like it is a 15 or 18 year old because of the vibrant flavors and sophistication of the overall integration of this malt.  There is no young whisky here that is unruly.  We are talking serious refinement.



The powerful flavors comes in part from the 46% ABV.

The unique velvety texture comes from being aged in the port pipes for 2 years.

The port is a nice change from the Oloroso sherry casks that are so frequently used in the single malt production carried out at so many distilleries.  How come we don't see more port finishes or the use of such casks in the ageing of single malt spirit?  The answer lies in the fact that master blenders find the port cask a fickle creature.  The reaction between port casks and the distillery spirit is not always predictable, which can lead to disappointing results.  Another problem is supply.  Good port casks are not as widely available as say Olorso sherry casks.

The Quinta Ruban is a poor man's Balvenie 21 year old Portwood
This single malt reminds me of The Balvenie 21 year old Portwood finish.  Another stunner!  The Balvenie is superior to Glenmorangie, but one must remember that the former is one of the greatest single malts I have ever tasted.  The Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban at a third of the price is still in the same neighbourhood!

This single malt is also non-chill filtered.

So, let's put it all together:  higher than average ABV, port finish, non-chill filtered, plus obviously great wood (ex-bourbon casks) to start and you have a dream of a dram here.  If you like sherried malts, you're gonna love this one.  Fans of Oban 14, Clynelish 14, The Glenlivet 18, GlenDronach 15 and higher end Glenfarclas are going to really appreciate the Glenmorangie 12 year old Quinta Ruban matured in Port Casks.  This malt puts to shame a lot of 12 year old competitors like The Macallan 12 years (a truly overrated dram if there ever was one!).

Highly recommended!

Cheers!


Jason Debly


Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2016. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission.

33 comments:

  1. Great review, Jason! I never gave this one any consideration before, because no one ever seems to like it more than Glenmo Original, and I also assumed it was your run-of-the-mill 40-43% and chill filtered scotch. As I am growing and learning what I like in my scotch journey, I am placing more emphasis on higher ABV and non-chill filtered. To me, having that mouthfeel is really important. It helps you sip slowly and savor the dram. I will give this one some serious consideration, as it is also not overly expensive: sounds like great value.

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  2. Ryan, it is very good. Truly exceptional. I am impressed that the high ABV does not impart any disappointing flash of raw alcohol or youngish whisky. If ever there was a velvety scotch, this is the one!

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  3. Guess i know what i'll be picking up next at the Duty Free. I plan to go through most of Glenmorangie's line this 2012 hopefully. I highly suggest you try their Nectar D'Or next time if you loved this.

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  4. Jason, after reading this review, I couldn't resist the temptation to open up my bottle of Glenmorangie Original that I had in the cabinet. I know I will be in the minority here, but I found it totally unpalatable. The floraly/over-ripe fruit aroma churned my stomach, and I just couldn't drink it. I don't know, I know I'm weird on this one. Maybe it's because I'm allergic to pollen in flowers, smelling like flowers makes me feel sick. I don't know! Anyway, have you had Glenmo Original? Do you know if that same characteristic aroma shows up in Quinta Ruban?

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Ryan, the Original and the Quinta Ruban are very different scotch whiskies. The former is floral and citrus like, whereas the latter is a bombastic portwood gem.

      I have only had the Original in bars and it was not to my liking. But, if I had a new bottle and worked my way through it, who knows?

      Bottom line: Quinta is nothing like the Original. Dont pass it up because of your bad experience with the Original.

      Delete
    2. Ryan,

      I also did not like the Original whatsoever. I found it to be bland and somewhat cloying with a sour finish.

      I do like the laSanta quite a bit, I find it somewhat more interesting than the other sherried malts I have had.

      Based on Jason's review I think I am going to have to give the Quinta Ruban a try.

      Delete
  5. Love the review...agree completely...initially I took a liking to the Nectar d'Or, but I now much prefer the Quinta Ruban. It does seem much older than 12 years. Can't wait for your opinion of the Balvenie Caribbean Cask....

    KBailey

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    Replies
    1. KBailey, Unfortunately the Balvenie Caribbean cask is not available where I live. But, if I travel, will keep and eye out for it.

      Delete
  6. I've received this as a gift, haven't opened it yet, but looking forward to it now. Cheers, Boris

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  7. Yup, it's seriously good whisky. I have a hard time picking between the Quinta Ruban and the Lasanta. They're both stunning examples of what good fortified wine finishes can do for scotch.

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  8. Hi Jason,

    Nice review on the Quinta! I had the Lasanta when I was in Holland last week. Nice dram but still not as velvety as the Nectar d' Or. Wanted to buy the Quinta on my arrival in Sao Paulo yesterday but it was sold out! That is saying something I suppose.Will go for it next time. The Original is not bad as an everyday dram but it is a long way from both the Lasanta and the Nectar d' Or. And from the Quinta as well, after having read your review.

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  9. The original is one of the best entry level malts you can buy. This one is yet another Glenmorangie attempt at a powerful finish and it actually manages it for a change. I'm not a huge fan of port casks, too often these finishes are a fad or a novelty, this one might just stick.

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    Replies
    1. In the past, Glenmorangie has taken some chances with exotic finishes, but this one does work beautifully.

      The bad news is that I hear their master blender has left them. Hopefully, her departure will not affect this great malt.

      Delete
  10. This was my first single malt, and to this day is still my favorite. I would rank it above any other twelve year, including the Highland Park.

    Cheers and enjoy.

    -Kevin

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  11. Hello Jason,

    Another great review! Like Ryan, I really disliked the Glenmo Original 10. It is too floral and raw alcohol for my taste. Basically I am not a huge fan of floral ones. And reading any other Glenmo reviews, looke like all of them taste like the Original. Until now! When you said it is totally different and it remembers Balvenie PortWood which I really want to try but is too expensive, made my decision on buying the Quinta Ruban.

    Thanks a lot, and as soon as having it, I will write my impressions (hope will be good)!

    Best regards,

    Kdfukuyama.

    PS: sorry for my terrible english

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    Replies
    1. Your English is pretty damn good!

      I look forward to your impressions of this great single malt!

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    2. Thanks!

      It will only take a bit because I can only buy next month (cash reasons).


      regards,

      Kdfukuyama.

      Delete
  12. Hello Jason,

    I put my hand on Quinta Ruban faster than I imagined and, you was damn right! Fantastic Whisky! An impressive improvemet from Original 10! Sweet Nose of Orange, toffee and vanilla. Palate that starts sweet and creamy, but becomes dry and spicy to a warm and hints of smoky Finish!

    Now I am more confident on buying Nectar D'or!

    Thanks a lot!


    best regards,

    Kdfukuyama

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    Replies
    1. Careful, the Nectar D'or is not nearly as good.

      You reached the pinnacle with Quinta Ruban. Sadly only disappointment awaits you with other Glenmorangie offerings in comparison.

      Anyhow, glad you like it!

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  13. Based on your review of Quinta Rubin I asked for and received this single malt for Christmas. Another wonderful recommendation Jason -Thanks! This is definitely one to savor and linger over! Also, I know that color is not THAT important, but I have to say, this one is gorgeous in the glass. Does GM add the dreaded color additives? I imagine the port casks account for at least part of the visual beauty. Anyway, this one is now right up there with my favorites. - VTBob

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    Replies
    1. Glad you like this fabulous malt. I mean they really hit the nail on the head with this one. Where it is so good, you might want to get a second bottle and put it away for another time.

      As for coloring, I am pretty sure they did not adjust it. It is a delightful ruby red that I also noticed.

      Glad you like it. I hate to steer readers in the wrong direction.

      Thanks for letting other readers know your impressions on this malt.

      Delete
  14. Great blog and review, Jason. Thanks for your indepth reviews... As a rather new comer to single malts I am still finding my way, but I may have arrived with this purchase. I absolutely love the smooth finish and rich tastes. The Port Casks finish is subtle but a well-received refinement. Highly recommended.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you like the blog and I am glad you enjoy the Quinta Ruban. By the way, enjoying such a malt means you are no longer a "new comer" to single malts. Welcome to the enthusiast community!

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  15. I always ask this Jason...
    Is this worth the extra almost $20 than the Original I was think of...? $82 vs $65 - Original...oops just read comments above... I might give it a crack... something different... heh heh..

    AL (from OZ)

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  16. Bought the Quinta a couple of days ago. Just about to put to put it in the cupboard tonight.... "bugger it! I'll have a tiny taste." Firstly though.... That colour.. love it! The first sniff singed the nostril hairs a bit. Then some spices came through...Hello! dried fruit.. Taste... a bit spicy but more dried fruit and a bit woody?still nice though. That finish... tasting it an easy 10 minutes later...that fruit and porty woody taste kept on. Fighting the urge to go back into my mancave for another go. I'll wait for a few days. I like this one mate. The Aberlour abu might take the points... but not by much, plus this is $30 cheaper... and that extra finish... hard to separate....(but nothing will top the HP18 mate.).
    Thanks for the tip Jas.

    AL

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    Replies
    1. Port finishes can delight because they deliver an interesting twist on red fruits type notes that are typical of sherry aged and finished malts. Port finishes, when done well, are darker, raspberry or blackberry jams and such.

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  17. Had our tasting last Friday night.... Same as last time... Nose packed a wallop then gave us nice fruit. The tasting.... port again coming through... like that taste.... 2nd glass.. I said what do you reckon about water... Both agreed... Added a bit at a time. Lucky to be an 1/8th of a teaspoon. Nose... lacking... almost bland...Not confident now....Taste.... holy cow!!! it was magic... You know the feeling ... We looked at each other at the same time and said woah!! This has been the only time water has done it' for me. Glad I listened to you about adding , mate. It did feel weird doing it though.

    AL

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    1. Yeah, water is pretty amazing how it can dilute and mute some whiskies while others are taken to a new level of complexity. The key is to use very, very little water.

      Sounds like you had a good time!

      Delete
  18. I recently started getting into single malts about 2 months ago. I did some research online from various sites and went a little gong ho with initial purchases.

    Here is my current collection over that time.
    1. Aberlour 12 NCF
    2. Macallan 12
    3. Glendronach 12
    4. Glenlivet 15
    5. Glenmorangie Nectar Dor
    6. Balvenie Doublewood 12
    7. Glenfiddich 12 375 liter bottle
    8. The 4 pack of Glenmorangie

    Yes....I went overboard and regret a couple of the purchases....live and learn.

    Anyways this post isn't about what I have but thought listing it might give some insight to my opinion on the Quinta Ruban. My palate found it delightful and left me wanting more. It delivered from nose to finish.

    Jason I find your insight quite straight forward and honest. I must say from my early experiences that I strongly agree with the feedback shared on your site.

    1. I find the Macallan 12 way overrated.

    2. NCF - Non Chill Filtered really does make a difference in your dram experience.

    3. Glenlivet 15 - It might as well say 12. It was very immature. Now I am leery on trying another 15.

    4. The Balvenie 12 double wood and Aberlour 12 NCF are BOTH fantastic especially with a teaspoon of distilled water.

    5. Lastly, out of the Glenmorangie 4 pack, The Quinta Ruban is heads and shoulders above the other three. The Nectar Dor would follow next...but nowhere close to the Ruban. The Lasanta and Original lag even further behind the Nectar Dor. I don't think any of the 4 are bad....especially for the money. However the Quinta Ruban was the ONLY one that truly but a smile on my face. Now I regret hastily buying so many so quickly because I really want to get a bottle of the Quinta Ruban.

    However I will have to patiently wait until I drink through my current stock of give some away - hint Macallan 12 & Glenlivet 15

    I hope this wasn't a bore to read and hope it might help some newbies when the time comes for their first initial purchases.

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    1. Hi! Welcome to the blog!

      I think you are developing your personal tastes very well! Quinta Ruban is a stellar dram. The other GLenmorangie I encourage you to give another go is the Nectar DO'r, it really shines too. Finally, try Cragganmore 12.

      Cheers!

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