The phrase that comes to mind when one thinks of Glenmorangie is ‘The sixteen men of Tain.’ From the time the distillery was started in 1843, it has been managed and run by sixteen dedicated, hard working men who carry on the responsibility of producing this fine single malt. The tradition has passed down with every generation and even though the quantity of whisky produced is much more than it was in 1843, this whisky is still handcrafted by sixteen men of Tain.
Glenmorangie stands on the shores of Dornoch Firth and was founded by William Matheson. Instead of buying new stills, with typical Scottish frugality, the distillery manager bought second hand gin stills. This set the tradition of using tall stills of hand beaten copper with arching swan necks. Glenmorangie now uses the tallest stills in Scotland at 16 feet and 10 and1/4 inches.
William Matheson was followed by one of his sons, John, who took over the distilling duties. The whisky was hugely popular and in 1887 a Limited Company was set up. The partners were the Maitland brothers and Duncan Cameron. The demand boomed and the whisky was soon exported to various countries all over the world.
During the First World War the troops of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were barracked at the distillery in the malt barns every summer. At the end of WWI the distillery passed out of local ownership. Glenmorangie was bought by their biggest customer MacDonald and Muir of Leith. A member of the MacDonald family is still closely associated with the Distillery. The contingent of sixteen men of Tain once again ran the distillery at full swing at the end of the war.
The distillery has always used water from Tarlogie springs though the land belonged to the Laird. It is not possible to control it or prevent development around the springs so in 1980 the distillery bought 650 acres around the springs to safeguard the water quality.
In the 1990s Glenmorangie was expanded to increase the number of stills in order to meet the world demand. In 2002 two washbacks or fermentation vessels were added to increase production. Despite this Glenmorangie is managed by its sixteen men of Tain who work round the clock in quiet efficiency. They include the distillery manager and his assistant, mash men, still men and warehouse men.
Glenmorangie produces a memorable 10 year old which is stored in used bourbon casks resulting in a balanced yet complex whisky. Glenmorangie Sherry Wood Finish goes through an initial maturation in ex-bourbon casks and is then transferred to sherry casks to get the perfect finish. The Port Wood Finish whisky matured in American oak casks has a deep rich texture. Other whiskies include the Madeira Finish and Burgundy Wood Finish among others.