I wrote about the Glenmorangie stills in an exploration of still shapes as a significant factor in the character of whisky produced. You can find that previous post here.
There are other factors that make Glenmorangie a special distillery, not the least of them the extensive breakthrough experimentation in wood finishes – and i say this without taking a stance in the bragging rights war going back 30 years between The Balvenie and Glenmorangie on the question of who actually did it first. It doesn’t matter, as there can be no doubt that Glenmoarngie made wood finish experementation a major part of their credo. Thus, it’s no wonder that the backbone of the core range are the Sauternes, Port and Sherry finished Nectar D’or, Quinta Ruban and Lasnata.
What’s so intreaguing about the Glenmorangie expressions is that they all start with the same spirit that makes the Original, the base of the core expressions. There is no such core expression reference with most other distilleries (like Balvenie or Edradour – at least at this point – as some of the Straight from the Cask expressions are from before the change of hands in 2002).
Over the last six years or so, the distillery under the guidence of Dr. Bill Lumsden, has released a private edition expression, highlighting some aspect of the “experemental” work done at the distillery. Even before taking tasting notes, I enjoyed the ones I tasted, and when the Ealanta came out, I procured a bottle, as I did with the Companta.
That left a few I needed to get my tasting notes for, and after getting samples of the Sonnalta PX from my friend Joris Kooimans and a sample of Finealta from Yoav Gelbfish of Whisky Gospel I had the opportunity to have a full set tasting with Ran Latovicz and Ofer Ben Or, which gave me the chance to fill in my notes for the Artein and the Astar (yes, not technically part of the series, but it should have been. It should have also never been discontinued…) bringing us to this post. Beginnning with the Astar, I’ll post my notes on it and all five “official” PEs in both parts of this post. Availability of bottles in this series varies: while the Sonnalta PX, Artein and the Ealeana are quite scarce and available only in auctions and at hefty prices, the Finealta,, Companta and Astar can still be had for relatively sane prices.
Glenmorangie Astar (57.1% ABV, NCF and Non Colored)
The Astar was a wood experiment with slower growing and more porous oak from north facing slopes in the USA.
The whisky produced by this oak is clean and crisp. Full of flavors not typical to Glenmorangie. This expression is extremely fruity and, well for lack of a better word, crisp.
Color: Light straw, with fast running and well spaced legs.
Nose: Lemongrass, sweet perfume, vanilla malt fresh-baked cheese danish. Water brings out lemon meringue and line in droves.
Pallet: Sweet mesquite, tannin tanginess, lemon, kiwi and green pepper.
Linger: Very warm going down, long linger leaving a very clean lemony after note.
New wood is a really great combination with the Glenmorangie new make.
Glenmorangie Private Edition Ealanta 19 Year Old (46% ABV, NCF and Non Colored)
The Ealanta slumbered in virgin oak casks for nearly two decades, from 1993 to 2012.
It’s well-known that this whisky was named by Jim Murray whiskey of the year first 2014 Whisky Bible, a point which can, obviously, be argued – but why would you want to? This expression is nothing short of glorious and if you haven’t gotten your hands on a tasting of it yet by all means do that.
Color: Amber with thin and very slow legs.
Nose: Orange, honey, vanilla, the bottom layer of the New York cheesecake, toffee, oak, faint flowers and the spice shop at the bazaar. Let it sit for a while and you get a freshly opened box of Entenmann’s crumb doughnuts.
Pallet: Soft and smooth, citrus with oak becoming dominant in developing into bittersweet chocolate.
Linger: Spice and oak with faint vanilla, tardiness on the inner cheeks and light spices on the tongue.
There’s something absolutely magical which happens when the Glenmorangie new spirit meets virgin oak. We saw that with the stunning Astar and we see it again with the Ealanta. If there is a clear message going out from this blog to Dr. Bill Lumsden it is this: More new oak, a lot more new oak!
Glenmorangie Private Edition Artein 15 Year Old (46% ABV, NCF and Non Colored)
This lovely edition was finished in Super Tuscan wine casks which lends expression fruity flavors without actually imparting tannic notes to the whisky. This whisky is delicate and would go extremely well paired with fish.
Color: Bronze, with thin and fast legs.
Nose: Grapefruit, almond, coconut shavings, mango, pineapple, clean citrus, raisins and gentle blueberry.
Pallet: Cashew, white pepper and black pepper with a silky delivery and a smoothness in the mouth.
Linger: Spicy at first giving way to mango and pineapple notes in a medium linger.