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KCM Spirit Reviews

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review 219: Glenmorangie Astar

Review 219
Glenmorangie Astar: 57.1% abv

Background: Another review of a Glenmorangie from the KCM crew. There has been a lot of buzz from the Whisky Bible about Glenmorangie Ealanta, so why not do that? Well, because this is what we bought, so this is what you get. The highlight of Astar, a cask strength monster from the Highland distillery is the oak casks, that come from the Ozarks of Missouri. This staves are then air dried for 24 months (or 2 years for the conversion-challenged among us), which is an extremely positive mark on the cask quality. The assembled casks are heavily toasted, and Tennessee whisky is aged in these casks for 4 years. Finally, Astar makes its way into the cask and out spits a cask strength, natural color, non-chill filtered beast. The only thing that Glenmorangie doesn’t tell you, to their fault, is the age of this work. Rumor has it the whisky might be around 10 years old. So what now? Let’s figure out what this whisky is like.


Nose: Right off the bat, the first impression on the nose is heavy whiskey, like Jack Daniels. Cream and vanilla are prevalent at first, with mild malt aromas coming through subtly. There is some banana and coconut that pulls into the strong nose. As the nose starts to open up, the oak is pretty strong on the nose. If you really struggle, there is a bit of fall spices that can be smelled on the whisky. The nose is relatively simple though.

Arrival: The arrival starts with a boozy Tennessee whiskey flavor, with sweet malt and corn flavor. There is some bitter spice as well, but the flavor quickly dissipates after this. There is a little bit of hot cinnamon.

Body: The body introduces a savory flavor into the mix, still sustaining the Tennessee whiskey flavor and strong hints of vanilla. There is bitter, sappy oak that is dominating the flavor.

Finish: The finish is hugely oaky, with American whiskey and vanilla up front. The finish is hot and spicy, with bitter black peppercorn, cinnamon, and slight savory notes. There is some dry vegetal notes, with a slight smokiness that is reminiscent of burning tobacco.

With Water

Nose: The nose hasn’t opened up terribly well after adding water. The stubborn aromas don’t seem to be breaking free from the whisky. Unfortunately, the complexity is still lacking in this portion of the whisky.

Arrival: The arrival has allowed the whisky to really present itself well. Complexity is shy, but the Tennessee character is definitely well defined now. The spices are more bold and prominent. In general, the arrival is substantially more enjoyable. There is a bit of pear present now that wasn’t detected before.
Body: The body actually reveals some interesting complexities that weren’t prevalent before. There is a lot of herbal and vegetal notes, with blends of complex fruits, including grapes, pear, and nectarines. 

Finish:  The finish is still intense and spicy, with the toasted oak bursting through. The spices are huge, but not terribly distinguishable. The vegetal notes in this whisky are more prominent than before, with a malty aftertaste that reminds you you’re drinking a Scotch, and not an American whiskey. 

Final Comments: It might look like you’ve seen a rushed review, but that’s not terribly true. This is definitely a challenging whisky to deal with, but in a blind tasting, you might mistake this for a bourbon or a Tennessee whiskey. Does that make this a bad Scotch? Not nearly. But it does not give you the classic Glenmorangie fruity, floral whisky experience you might expect. It also lacks severely in complexity. That being said, this is a very quality whisky, and the recipe is done pretty well right. It is also respectable that Glenmorangie provided a lot of information on the whisky. Thus, you might struggle with whether or not to buy a bottle of this gem. Our suggestion is to steer clear of this respectable identity crisis unless you have nothing better to do with your money.

Why you’d buy it: It is a bourbon-lover’s Scotch, and with water it is really an enjoyable catch.
Why you wouldn’t: It really doesn’t justify its pricetag by any stretch of the imagination.

Score: 8.0 /10

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