Glenmorangie Signet: the story behind a whisky unlike any other

Spicy chocolate, intense espresso, refreshing mandarin — it’s a group of flavours you’d expect to find as the final crescendo of a fine dining experience, finishing a fine meal.

They’re also the flavours you’ll find in a dram of Glenmorangie Signet, which makes it a simpatico partner to dessert.

To understand what stands Signet apart from the rest, you need to know why it’s made the way it is. And you need to know Dr. Bill Lumsden, the man behind the dram.

When he was studying his PhD in biochemistry, he got hooked on coffee. The same passionate study and love that today fuels his work at Glenmorangie was then driving him to dive into the world of coffee, a rare pursuit in 1980s Edinburgh.

He loved a coffee made from beans grown in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, and obsessed over the details: the subtleties of different varieties, the ideal temperature and methods of roasting coffee beans. The geeky stuff.

It’s this experience that many years later — in 2009 — resulted in the release of Glenmorangie Signet.

It’s one of the rarest Glenmorangie drams, and a whisky unlike any other. Dr. Lumsden — harking back to his university days — hit upon the idea of roasting the malt for Glenmorangie Signet at a high temperature to create a rich high-roasted ‘chocolate’ malt to lend the whisky a mocha-like background. Drawing on those coffee explorations of his youth, he roasted the malt in a tumble roaster (the way coffee beans are roasted) in tiny quantities. He also included whisky made from Glenmorangie’s own Cadboll barley to give a hint of creaminess to the spirit.

To this he added whiskies aged in a range of oaks: spirit rested in ex-oloroso sherry casks for dried fruit spiciness and sweetness; rich whiskies aged in slow-growth, air seasoned Missouri oak casks (to lend vanilla and fudge notes); and whisky aged in new charred oak casks for a toasted character in the dram. 

The result is a whisky rich and dark gold in colour, voluptuous and luxurious on the palate with flavours of cinnamon, ginger and Seville oranges, tempered by delicious bitter mocha.

It’s no wonder it plays well with dessert, and that was the focus of Glenmorangie’s recent partnership with Melbourne’s custodians of haute cuisine, Vue de Monde. Together with Vue de Monde’s Lui Bar, they launched the Signet Speakeasy back in June which saw executive chef Hugh Allen creating three desserts to pair with the espresso, chocolate and mandarin notes you find in Glenmorangie Signet: a mandarin ice cream, marshmallow with a parfait centre made from Glenmorangie, and a coffee lamington, all made to the high standards of the Vue de Monde kitchen.

You don’t need to be an award-winning chef to discover how well Glenmorangie Signet and dessert match, however; August saw a number of bars adding the Glenmorangie perfect serve to their menus: a glass of Glenmorangie Signet, served neat, with a few pieces of chocolates created to match those key flavours of spicy chocolate, intense espresso, and refreshing mandarin.

For more information contact your Moet-Hennessy representative.