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Innovation - All in the Past, Present & Future

Where we have been successful, well, inevitably, we have kept a careful record.

Distilling was nothing new in the mid-19th Century when our founder began making Glenmorangie. But his approach to it was new: using incredibly tall stills and the distillery’s very own precious water source, William Matheson produced an unusually smooth spirit which even then was distinctively elegant.

So Glenmorangie was instantly innovative and we’ve kept at it ever since – innovating, that is – and we’re still pretty progressive these days, often the first to try something new, the first to take a different approach and to make it so successful it’s adopted widely and becomes a convention. Perhaps there have been some trailblazing experiments which failed and which have been conveniently lost to history… But where we’ve been successful, well, inevitably we’ve kept a careful record:

1887 – After just 40 years our distillery was entirely rebuilt and equipped with the tallest steam-heated stills in Scotland. Those stills - which were warmed with steam coils and not direct heat - were a massive turning point for the Scotch whisky industry, bringing with them speed, scale and precision, and helping make Glenmorangie a purer, smoother spirit.

1987 – We launched the 1963 Vintage, the first Glenmorangie vintage and the world’s first release of a “wood finished” (or extra-matured) Scotch whisky. The 1963 was extra-matured in former oloroso Sherry casks.

1990 - The Native Ross-shire Glenmorangie Cask Strength (non chill filtered) was released, the first single cask, cask-strength single malt to be sold by a distillery company.

1991 - Glenmorangie introduced ‘designer casks’. Ideal casks were becoming harder to find and we were the first distillery to adopt the recommendations of an official research programme and begin using casks made from specific wood air-dried for precise periods, a formula we still use today.

1994 – We launched Glenmorangie Port Wood Finish, the world’s first single malt Scotch whisky to be partly matured in Port wood pipes. The whisky was at least 12 years old before it was “finished” in Port pipes for a further two years. The whisky expert Jim Murray believed it to be “the bravest and in some ways the most brilliant single malt I have tasted in 20 years.”

1995 – In this year we launched the world’s first whisky with a Madeira Wood Finish, a malt of incredible aromatic complexity.

1995 - The world’s first Scotch malt whisky television ad appeared on our screens. The ads appeared before the Christmas period in the UK on terrestrial television. It featured some of the gloriously evocative Gaelic words which describe a storm. That terrible tumult is then contrasted with the tranquillity of drinking Glenmorangie… (Glenmorangie, you may know, when translated from Scots Gaelic means Glen of Tranquillity.)

1995 – So, there’s this new thing, all over the world. It’s called The Internet (and back then it was capitalised!) Anyway, in this year it was Glenmorangie that launched the world’s first single malt whisky brand website.

1996 – Based on the successes of our extra-matured bottlings we released the world’s first Wood Finish Range: Madeira, Sherry and Port.

1997 - We held the world’s first online malt whisky tasting.

2002 - The launch of Glenmorangie Missouri Oak Reserve, 1991 Limited Edition, the world’s first virgin oak whisky (and the forerunner to Glenmorangie Ealanta).

2008 - The launch of Signet, the world’s first single malt whisky made with high roasted chocolate malt barley.

2014 – The Taghta becomes world’s first crowd-sourced whisky. From its label to its finish to its name – which means ‘Chosen’ in Scots Gaelic – this whisky was brought into being by public vote, the opinions of dedicated fans, members of the Glenmorangie Cask Masters programme.

Whisky-making is a traditional business. Spirits have been distilled since time immemorial and whisky, as we know it, has been carefully regulated for almost 200 years. But in whisky, as in life, there are always improvements to be made, small gains to be achieved. Our aim is always to maintain the exacting standards of our core whiskies, to keep on achieving liquid precision and perfection. In general though, especially with newer expressions and across our wider family of whiskies, Glenmorangie will always be pioneering.