Jul 9, 2011

two top shelf single malts: one from Highlands, one from Islay...

If I am not mistaken it's been almost two years if not more since I first tasted these two truly exceptional whiskies and I clearly remember how they made me appreciate splendid whisky making and respect people behind it. Both drams make you feel like you took an important step in "looking for the perfect dram" like Iain Banks would say. They both are expensive bottles but if you are a whisky enthusiast I hope you will find the opportunity to taste them. You will be enjoying every single drop...

Glenmorangie Astar (57.1%): Basically this whisky is another experimental finish of the Glenmorangie Original. In this case it is matured in light charred, heavily toasted, ex-bourbon barrels made from specially selected and treated oak trees coming from Ozark Mountains, Missouri. The name Astar which means "journey" in Gaelic refers to this trip. It is bottled at traditional 100 English proof strength. Color: Very pale, hay like. Nose: This is a nose to cry for. Coconut, vanilla, candied ginger. With a few drops of water it amplifies unbelievably. Sliced fresh apples and pears, oak stakes, peeled fresh almonds and walnuts. Delicate and perfumey. Palate: Lemon meringue pie, citrusy fruits and zests. Mint and lemongrass... Sweet and thick. Water addition makes it incredibly smooth and brings cookie dough and tons of bananas. Finish: Quite long with toasted nuts, ginger and cinnamon. Overall: Another huge breakthrough from Dr. Bill Lumsden, the wizard and the master distiller behind Glenmorangie's and Ardbeg's innovations in the last decade. A truly great whisky with a lot of character and depth. Like I said it can be an important step up for your nose and taste buds...

Laphroaig 18yo (48.0%): To be honest I was one of those guys complaining out loud when Laphroaig announced that they were replacing their great 15 year old expression with the new 18 year old one and basically doubling it's price tag. I still feel bad about not putting a few 15's in the cabinet that time before they totally faded out but I have to admit the new 18 happened to be an amazing, amazing whisky. Color: Dark amber, pine tree honey. Nose: Very mellow and smooth peat. Tar, brine and diesel engine exhaust. First aid kit and wet raincoat left closed in the closet. Cloves? Sea breeze. I could nose it till morning. A beautiful Islay nose... Palate: This is an exceptionally mellow and smooth Laphroaig. Extra three years in maturation rounded all the peaty edges. Bonfire at the beach, salted bonitos. Added water releases malty and oaky notes with some burnt caramelized apples stuck in skillet. Finish: Long and peppery. Seaweed and wet wooden stakes at the pier. Old wool blanket from the chest. Overall: First of all it is a very different whisky than the 15 year old one. Therefore I don't think that it makes sense to compare them all the time. Secondly: Wow..!!! What a dram..! As a true peat geek it definitely became one of my favorite whiskies right away. Yeah, it is quite pricey but it is a great bottle to have if you want to raise a dram or two for special occasions. Absolutely delicious..!