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On Giraffes and Glenmorangie

At its core, marketing is a peculiar craft. Every day at Drinkhacker HQ, our inboxes fill with product press releases and exciting announcements about executive promotions at booze companies. While some pitches are straightforward with few antics or gimmicks, others defy description. Then there are the ones that catch our attention and reel us in, which brings us to what Glenmorangie is up to with its recent campaign.

Rather than unleash a disjointed and reaching campaign on an unsuspecting public, Glenmorangie has teamed up with the Giraffe Conservation Fund (GCF), an international, science-forward organization providing new and unique strategies to saving giraffes in their natural habitats. The small group of scientists have dedicated their lives to identifying critical threats to dwindling giraffe populations, working with local communities and partner institutions to prevent poaching, and help spread awareness of the threats currently facing giraffe populations. Their mission is more vital than ever.

During an informal session on Zoom, a crew of whisky scribes was treated to a brief but informative presentation from Drs. Julian and Stephanie Fennessy, co-directors and co-founders of the GCF. The good doctors discussed recent events and actions undertaken by the GCF and how Glenmorangie is helping to raise awareness by amplifying the GCF’s message through social media platforms, limited edition packaging, and other means of support.

Via email, I asked Dr. Stephanie Fennessy about the state of research regarding giraffes. Her response was particularly telling: “When we started to get involved in giraffe research in the late 1990s, there was hardly any research available on giraffe. That’s why we got involved — there was a gap. We started out with research and we managed to slowly generate some awareness for the plight of giraffe — which then in turn triggered the interest of some students to focus their studies — so some kind of seesaw effect, maybe. But the more we learned about giraffe numbers and threats, the better we understood that we also needed to start acting. It is all good and well to know everything about a species (or in this case 4 species), but if there is none left to protect, it is a little late. So, we decided to base our conservation actions on the best available science at any one time — but start doing rather than talking.”

Gillian Macdonald, head of Analytics and Whisky Creation at Glenmorangie, then led us through a brief tasting session featuring three expressions in their core range. We’ve reviewed these at various points prior to now, but it’s always a good time for a review refresh.

Glenmorangie The Original – The baseline 10-year-old from which all other expressions flow. The initial approach is rich with butterscotch and toffee opening up with pear and floral influences after a few drops of water. The palate starts with toffee and citrus, but midway through hits the gas pedal with malt and star anise pods before easing up on a short finish full of ripe peach. It’s not the most complex in their portfolio, but serves as an affordable and accessible entry-level single malt and a proper introduction to Glenmorangie’s range. 86 proof. B+ / $43

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban – A 14-year-old, non-chill filtered whisky aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished for two years in ruby port casks. Dark chocolate and praline on the nose mixed with intense red berry provided no doubt by the finishing cask. The palate is a wonderful mix of tobacco leaf, ginger, and stone fruit, leading to a medium-length finish of oak, cinnamon, and dark fruit. 92 proof. A- / $57

Glenmorangie Lasanta – A 12-year-old expression aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished for two years in Oloroso sherry casks. The sherry influence is evident right from the onset with cranberries, honey, and sultana on the nose, plus a little bit of brown sugar and raspberry with a bit of water. The palate is a well-balanced dance between the tartness of dried cherries and savory toasted walnuts and cereal notes. The finish never overstays its welcome and ends with a nice kick of oak and a surprising burst of heat. 86 proof. B+ / $45

Glenmorangie has some fun things planned for the future, none of which they are loose-lipped about right now. However, based on what scant details I’ve dredged up, the next few years will be exciting to witness.

Tomorrow (June 21) is World Giraffe Day. It is an annual event designed to celebrate the world’s tallest animal on the longest day of the year, and raise awareness to help save the giraffe’s mere existence on the African continent. With numbers dwindling at a concerning rate, there is no better time to act than now.

There’s also a bit of hope around the bend. It seems as if awareness and their efforts are being heard by regional governments. I’ll let the final word rest with Dr. Stephanie: “We are currently working with Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe on developing a Giraffe Conservation Strategy for the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, the largest transboundary conservation area in the world, as these countries are working together on managing this landscape.”

For more information we encourage you to visit their website or any one of their social media platforms (Twitter) (Facebook) and take a few minutes to learn about their critical work.

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Rob Theakston

Rob Theakston is a contributing editor to Drinkhacker.

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