Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Glenmorangie Lasanta 46% Dram #23

Quote: "warmth and passion";
A tasting note in itself.
I can't disagree.

Would you believe it, but until the Lasanta late last year I had not nosed, beyond a measure in a pub, a Glenmorangie! With Glenfiddich I was even worse, it must be said, waiting until February of this year, 16 months into my whisky journey, to bother tasting the most iconic Scotch whisky brand! It was nothing personal, I might add: other drams kept coming into my life and stealing focus.

ORIGINAL TASTING NOTE, TASTED DECEMBER 2008: COLOUR - Light caramel with gold highlights. NOSE - WoW - Intense. Sherry on oozing over layer. Waxy fruit. A gentle heathery sweetness. WW - Sweeter still. Fine grains of sugary aroma. Hard, metallic malt. Dusty, crumbly peat. Pastries and cakes. BODY - Smooth. Complicated choreography of mouth feel. PALATE - Rich and fruity sweet. A scrumptious malty sponge cake. FINISH - Vanilla, raspberries. Quite long. Quite tart, too. Apricot jam-like.

As the Auchentoshan of my last post underlines, by this time I was beginiing to get my eye in with this tasting business and during the autumn and winter I enjoyed a higher frequency of tastings. Recently, I have marked off at a particular tasting note in my notebook where I felt a transition of my skills and or knowledge occured, and the period of September to March undoubtedly witnessed rapid development and the acquisition of a skill level I found it easy to return to after the exam sabbatical. This Glenmorangie was a component of that period, although only now has it been evaluated by the senses it helped to hone in such a significant way.

Still unsure as to whether I had treated The Original Glenmorangie extremely unfairly, I sat down to revise the Sherry-matured 10-year-old which had received a decent but unexceptional "66" previously. So, how now brown cow?

I am a big fan of the latest packaging range. I believe it contributes to the impression that what you are drinking is more unusual, exclusive and expensive than the actual price point would suggest. Of course, the whisky itself hits above its weight, too, as I discovered.

It looks very attractive in the bottle and equally so in the glass: a pale, softly-textured amber.

On the nose I enjoyed a much more assertive initial introduction than The Original was prepared to give me: sharply and thickly floral and fruity. The distillery is on the Dornoch Firth, but this was the first time I was able to detect any geographical influence in the whisky. There is a light line of quite salty peat that rises from the lowest notes to the highest. There is also a sweet, soft and gentle bonfire smokiness that I seriously liked. The malt is perfumy, but also puts me in mind of a plain sponge that has been kept in the cupboard, in a Tupperware box, for a few days. The Sherry lends walnuts and almonds as well as fruitiness to the aroma, and this in turn provides heat. It is very, very good.

That "warmth and passion" is preserved with a drop of water, while the rest of the nose becomes softer and much sweeter. The salty peat smoke has remained, too. At the very centre is a soft, squishy "ball" of Sherry currants. Pecans replace the almonds and the shells of the walnuts emerge. The malt is quite a separate flavour and caramel-like. There is still an intense floral presence. The whole arrangement is medium to heavy with iced carrot cake and a lovely heathery accent. A quick swirl evokes more of the sweet, light and zesty Sherry.

The body is soft, round, clean and smooth.

Maltiness is very prevalent on the palate and it exhibits a quality noticed last year - that of the malt and Sherry intermingling like the stripes on a barber's pole - never quite meshed together but tied to each other. The Sherry oozes on top while the malt shimmies below. There is also a fantastic smoke note and the whole taste is very cake-like with a gentle richness and perfect (note that) sweetness.

The ethos behind the amlt is maintained right to the finish which is long and warm. Pecan pie is a gorgeous addition as is the vanilla note. Peat and salt book-end it all and a lush grassiness ushers the flavours out.

Having got to the "next phase" I was better able to appreciate this malt and the supreme quality behind it. I also gave it a new score of "67" which makes quite a difference in my eyes. It would now be the final act of cruelty not to look again at The Original.

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