Glenmorangie is one of the most famous distilleries and biggest selling brand names in the world. It is located next to an estuary in the north eastern Highlands, close to the small town of Tain. The distillery opened in 1843 and is now owned by multi national drinks giant, Moet Hennessy. It is also one of Scotland's largest distilleries, producing 4 million litres per year, and has the tallest set of stills in Scotland. This means that only the purest and lightest spirit reaches the condenser and gets collected for maturation. Glenmorangie is one of the few distilleries that use hard water during production (this water bubbles up from a natural spring near to the distillery) and this combined with the lighter spirit gives it distinctive characteristics. The range is extensive and covers different ages and cask finishes including sherry, port and Sauternes. The distillery tour is also excellent and we can recommend it from our last visit there. The 'Astar' is a long awaited new release that is cask strength (the alcoholic strength that the whisky is in the cask) and matured in special oak casks. This oak was specially selected by Glenmorangie and comes from a forest (that they own) in the Ozark mountains in Missouri, America.
The nose is gorgeous with lots of vanilla and butterscotch. There is also a citrus note (reminding me of lemon zest) and something spicy (ginger, i think). On the palate, this is like liquid gold. It is so sumptuous with a combination of sweetness (imagine raisins and sultanas), vanilla, creamy butterscotch and that gingery note. As it is a cask strength whisky, I added a small amount of water and this opened up the flavours even more, especially the vanilla and the creaminess of the butterscotch. An interesting spicy peppery note (imagine crushed peppercorns) also comes through with the addition of the water. The finish is very long and warm with the richness and the spicy notes perfectly balancing. This is a great whisky. It is one of the best that I have tasted to date and it's concerntrated flavours are enhanced superbly by adding water. Astar should cost between £50-55 and is a real 'must try before you die' whisky.