Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review - Glenmorangie Astar (2017 Edition)

The Astar is a re-release of the former cult favourite expression from the north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie. The original version of Astar was released ten years ago but had to be withdrawn due to a lack of suitable casks. It has taken Dr. Bill Lumsden - the Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks at Glenmorangie - almost a decade to orchestrate the Astar's re-release. This time it is released as a limited edition but, as with the original version, is still matured solely in casks made from American oak harvested from the Ozark Mountains in the American state of Missouri. Some are first-fill lightly charred casks and some heavily toasted barrels. The name of Astar translates as 'journey' from Gaelic.

Glenmorangie is one of the biggest selling single malt Scotch whisky brands in the world and was founded in 1843 by William Matheson. It was originally named as Morangie and took its current name in 1887. Glenmorangie has an annual production capacity of six million litres and the copper pot stills are the tallest of their type in Scotland, standing over five metres (16.5 feet) tall. It is also said to use the hardest water of any Scottish whisky distillery in production, which bubbles up from the nearby Tarlogie Springs. The distillery and brand are currently owned by Moet Hennessey.

"At Glenmorangie we are always searching for perfection – and Astar’s first release, entirely matured in our designer casks, was a momentous step on our journey. I’m delighted to be able to share the 2017 release with more single malt lovers."
Dr. Bill Lumsden. 

The Astar 2017 Edition is non chill-filtered and is bottled at 52.5% ABV. It will be priced at £74 per bottle and be initially available in the UK through specialist whisky retailers from September.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is expressive and has a punchy set of aromas - think of honey, vanilla, gingerbread, malted biscuits and heavy baking spices such as cinnamon and all-spice.

On the palate this whisky initially carries through the punchy nature of the nose. It is prickly and hot with notes of white pepper, ginger root and cinnamon particularly prominent. These begin to soften as the honey and vanilla notes begin to have more influence and add a delicious sweetness. A hint of golden syrup also adds to this. Underneath is something floral (possibly honeysuckle?), along with further notes of shortbread and marzipan. A final hit of the dusty baking spices and gingerbread from the nose round things off nicely.

With water the spices are softened and the whisky becomes very creamy. The vanilla and honey really come to the fore. The finish is long and warming with sweet honey and creamy vanilla to the fore. Then come the baking spices and hints of butterscotch and cocoa powder.

What’s the verdict? 
The original Glenmorangie Astar was one of our favourite whiskies at the time and we were delighted to hear that it was coming back. The 2017 Edition does not disappoint and has all of the same characteristic creaminess, sweetness and warm spiciness that we remember from the original version. It is a punchy whisky when taken neat but really comes in to its own when taken with a splash of water. In our view it has been worth the wait.