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Scotch

Glenmorangie Astar

$200.00

OVERALL
RATING

8

Whisky Review: Glenmorangie Astar

Tasting Notes:

About:
750ml; 57.1% ABV / 114.2 proof; Missouri Ozark Oak Casks; NAS; price around $200.
Appearance:
Color is chardonnay; legs are fairly fast running with negligible beading.
Nose:
Yes, the profile borders on the Glenmorangie 10-Year-Old, but it’s so much more rich and full. A palpable depth of character is noticeable right off the bat. The toasted oak, not surprisingly, brings with it a flavor akin to toasted almonds. With some help from the malt, this mellows into a kind of creamy marzipan. There’s also vanilla bean, orange, pineapple, and a downward turn into something a bit more sour, which reminds me of apple cider vinegar. Meanwhile, the wood presence comes round full-circle with cinnamon and baking spices.
Palate:
Okay, wow. The vanilla bean comes on strong. It’s almost as creamy as vanilla ice cream, providing a decadently oily mouth-feel for such a relatively young spirit. Missouri oak does announce its presence, albeit politely, with cinnamon, allspice, and toffee. All of this blends harmoniously into a wood presence that “canes the tongue” like a saxophone reed–gently, and softly. Other flavors include coconut creme, clover honey, orange zest, yellow raisins, and a bit of tropical mango. Last but not least, a Scottish shortbread hangs back, just beyond the radar, providing a buttery texture. Missouri oak is in the finish . . . but it’s married to caramel, orange pekoe tea, and a shortbread note. That’s the single malt back-talking–quietly, meekly–like a masochistic groom with a henpecking wife. Length is medium long.
Finish:
Comments:
If this whisky were on the market for its original price, then I would stock up. As things currently stand, paying around two hundred dollars at auction for a rare old NAS does not entice.rnrnIn a way, Astar is the blueprint for using a really good NAS offering to entice whisky drinkers into accepting the fate of no age statements. However, let it be known that I am not a fan of this practice. It’s too bad stocks of ten and twelve year whiskies are dwindling in warehouses, and that NAS labels are slowly becoming more common than age statements.rnrnMeanwhile, I will treasure each sip of Glenmorangie Astar…as the whisky level in my bottle moves towards the halfway point, and then slowly fades into the sunset.rnrnThank you, Dr. Bill, for bringing us such a treasure–even though it was, in all likelihood, designed to lull buyers into complacency with the idea of NAS whiskies, in general. These days, perhaps it’s no surprise that Astar makes the vast majority of NAS whiskies seem inferior by comparison. Why? Well, because they are.rnrnSpeaking of which, I miss my bottle of Glenmorangie Ealanta, which also used oak casks from Missouri. I should have bought a case of that delicious single malt before it sold out faster than a pussycat can lick its paw.

Glenmorangie’s Astar is one of those non-age statement (NAS) whiskies that started the trend towards withholding an age statement and “feeling good about it,” way back in 2008. The man behind this move was none other than Dr. Bill Lumsden, who is the head whiskymaker at Glenmorangie, a distillery that also pioneered the practice of cask finishing some of its core releases.

Astar was released with a sister brand called “Signet.” Both were designed to be artisan casks with a heavier, more lush style, as well as being more complex. In the case of “Astar,” this experiment was a success, and the rest is history. Plenty of other distilleries jumped on Astar’s bandwagon, most of them with mixed results.

In Scottish Gaelic, “Astar” literally means “journey,” and oh, how far the industry has come since 2008. As you will see from my tasting notes (below), Astar is a whisky that makes no apologies for being NAS. In fact, its wood presence is more than a little conspicuous, in a good way. According to Dr. Bill, the whisky is made from “slow growth, air seasoned, heavily toasted, lightly charred, ex-bourbon, American oak barrels.” That statement is music to my ears. After hearing such a happy pronouncement, I was quite eager to taste the whisky that came from Missouri Ozark casks, and I also wondered which sort of bourbon had formerly been aged in them.

Rumor has it that the whisky in Astar is just a hair’s breadth over ten years old, but it tastes more like a twelve. One thing’s for sure: it beats the pants off Glenmorangie’s standard 10-year-old, which is sometimes my choice in bars that don’t have more craft-oriented Scotches on the shelf.

Getting back to Dr. Bill’s Rumor Mill, I’ve heard tell that he is trying to move Glenmorangie 10-Year-Old in the direction of Astar, rather than vice-versa. And that’s good news to me.

Tasting Notes: Glenmorangie Astar

Vital Stats: 750ml; 57.1% ABV / 114.2 proof; Missouri Ozark Oak Casks; NAS; price around $200.

Appearance: Color is chardonnay; legs are fairly fast running with negligible beading.

Nose: Yes, the profile borders on the Glenmorangie 10-Year-Old, but it’s so much more rich and full. A palpable depth of character is noticeable right off the bat. The toasted oak, not surprisingly, brings with it a flavor akin to toasted almonds. With some help from the malt, this mellows into a kind of creamy marzipan. There’s also vanilla bean, orange, pineapple, and a downward turn into something a bit more sour, which reminds me of apple cider vinegar. Meanwhile, the wood presence comes round full-circle with cinnamon and baking spices.

Palate: Okay, wow. The vanilla bean comes on strong. It’s almost as creamy as vanilla ice cream, providing a decadently oily mouth-feel for such a relatively young spirit. Missouri oak does announce its presence, albeit politely, with cinnamon, allspice, and toffee. All of this blends harmoniously into a wood presence that “canes the tongue” like a saxophone reed–gently, and softly.

Other flavors include coconut creme, clover honey, orange zest, yellow raisins, and a bit of tropical mango. Last but not least, a Scottish shortbread hangs back, just beyond the radar, providing a buttery texture. Missouri oak is in the finish . . . but it’s married to caramel, orange pekoe tea, and a shortbread note. That’s the single malt back-talking–quietly, meekly–like a masochistic groom with a henpecking wife. Length is medium long.

Whisky Kirk

Kirk discovered the brilliance of Scottish whisky in 1987 while vacationing in Edinburgh. Over the course of three and a half decades that followed, he's built upon a knowledge of distilleries and the industry, as well as world whisky.

Kirk prides himself on speaking honestly while avoiding the usual flattery and fluffing that is all too common in whisky reviews these days. Occasionally, such directness has ruffled feathers in high places. So much the better. Because whenever feathers fly, the customer never loses.

Ye olde tradition of investigative journalism is rare these days, but not in Whisky Kirk's reviews. If he turns over a rock, or a cask, and there's something of interest to be found there, well then . . . the reader will hear of it. Every single time.

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