Here at the Whiskey Wash, we’ve generally been pretty big fans of Glenmorangie. And with good reason. While there are no shortage of whisky companies who are in it for the short haul, throwing out bottles with flashy labels and shoulder-shrugging prices, Glenmorangie has tended to set their own personal standards a bit higher. With its Private Collection series in particular, Glenmorangie has given itself leave to really explore the possibilities present in Scotch production, sending their ‘director of distilling,’ Dr. Bill Lumsden, across the world in order to find and experiment with different casks, grains, and flavors.
Of course, standards aren’t the only thing ‘high’ at Glenmorangie. One of the distillery’s claims to fame is their copper stills, which are the highest in Scotland at nearly 17 feet. The idea being that only the “most delicate alcohol vapours can reach the top,” allowing them to develop a more nuanced and subtle flavor that might be washed out with other distilling methods.
Today we’re taking a look at one of the offerings from their private collection, the Sonnalta PX. The PX is short for Pedro Ximénez, a type of sherry sharing the same name with a variety of white grape grown in southern Spain. When they made the Sonnalta PX, the whisky was first aged for ten years in American white oak bourbon casks before being transferred to the Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, where the Scotch spent the last two years of its maturation taking on the wood’s unique flavor profile.
The whisky was released for a short time in 2009, to a fair amount of acclaim, nabbing Glenmorangie a 2009 International Spirits Challenge gold medal. Of course, being a limited offering means that however hard it may have been to snag a bottle eight years ago, it’s a whole lot harder now.
Tasting Notes: Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX
Vital Stats: The Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX Single Malt Scotch Whisky is aged for ten years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, and then is transferred for an additional two years in Pedro Ximénez ex-sherry casks, totaling for an age statement of 12 years. The whisky weighs in at 92 proof, and is sold in a 700 ml bottle.
Appearance: The Sonnalta PX is a rich cherry-burgundy in the glass, with thin, slow legs.
Nose: Certainly there’s no doubt of the two years the scotch spent in the Pedro Ximénez sherry cask. Sweet and malty, with hints of sun-ripened figs, dark chocolate, and yellow raisins.
Palate: The Sonnalta is heavy on the palate – not one of those whiskys that just disappears down the hatch. It starts with the forward fruit flavors – yes, raisins, as well as plum and over-ripe cherry. You can taste that 92 proof, and a mouthful finishes with a back-of-the-tongue spiciness and a maple syrup-esque maltiness that lingers on (not unpleasantly) afterwards.
This is my first offering from Glenmorangie, and you can color me impressed! The Pedro Ximénez casks add a lovely sweetness to the offering, which flirts with (but doesn’t quite cross the line) of saccharine. It is a great dram, and one I highly recommend, if you can still find a bottle of it, that is.