Those of you who have been reading these pages for the last several years (actually this is the first page, so there's no catching up to do) know by now that I have a limited knowledge of whisky. I've never worked for a brand, a distiller or a publisher. I'm just a marketing guy who was weened from my grandfathers passover raisin wine, to single malt whisky, when I was a similar age to the whisky I was drinking.
So while I have no formal training, and very little credibility (with anyone but my wife, and even that's depleted), I'd like to think I do have some “street smarts.” Then again, I'm also one of the few who will admit to liking Loch Dhu, so what does that tell you...
I am a BIG fan (read: consumer) of the entire Glenmorangie range of expressions. Every single one of them...again and again. So it was with incredible excitement and great expectations that I had my first taste of the new Glenmorangie Astar Highland Single Malt tonight.
I had read about Glenmorangie's planned launch of this expression back in September when my new friend John Hansell, Publisher of the amazing Malt Advocate wrote about it in his blog. The level of detail Glenmorangie put into selecting the woods for, and the craftsmanship of, the barrels used to age the Astar was enough to make Norman Rockwell seem like an impressionist. And anyone who follows the whisky business knows that no distiller is better at the art of exploiting the subtitles of various woods when desiging thier casks than Glenmorangie.
And to top it all off, this baby comes in at 108 proof. Yowzaaa!
With complete and total disregard for the effort put into designing the Astar packaging, I tore through the box, ripped the bottle from its cradle, and ruthlessly twisted the corked top from the bottle's opening. I swiftly poured two fingers worth into the bottom of my glass, and let 'er swirl for a few seconds.
My impression nosing a freshly poured dram was a sensation not unlike taking a whiff of my first bottle of hooch when I was a kid. It smelled really good, but the initial sniff of alcohol caused the eyes to widen a bit. I regained control, and let the dram rest for a few minutes. Some of the alcohol evaporated out of the glass, and the nose mellowed and became softer. The initial taste experience was the same. A bit sharp at first (remember: 108 proof), but it lost its edge after about 10 minutes.
I'm not one to deftly describe the taste in terms that are more commonly understood by Scotch Lovers, but John Hansell described the whisky as "...not as subtle as the 10 year old expression, but it is creamier, richer, and fleshier, with loads of honeyed vanilla, coconut cream pie, toasted almond, vibrant spice (cinnamon, mint) and a basketful of citrus and summer fruits...”. I could not have said it better, John.
Make no mistake about it. This is a 10 year old whisky on overdrive. It's all business. But then I poured a few drops of water into my glass (and I do mean drops), and the Astar really softened up. The edge was gone, and all that was left was the sense of fruits John described, rolling around my tongue. There was a light finish, and I was amazed how fast the glass emptied itself given the 108 proof whisky that was in it. The next glass seem to evaporate even faster. And then I found myself enveloped in that sensuous feeling of warmth one gets, when drinking a really complex and elegant spirit, that extends to your toes.
Dr. William Lumsden of Glenmorangie really worked overtime on Astar. This whisky is absolutely worthy of the time, effort and attention to detail that he put into crafting it.
A really delicious whisky...get some, if you can.