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The flavors in Glenmorangie Astar are light, but they are here in abundance, all well-preserved and articulated in their cask-strength glory. Think of a light, sweet Highlander pumped up on a Barry Bonds supply of steroids, and you’ll get the idea.
Nose, neat: Blasts of malt, vanilla, citrus, honey, nuts, pepper, cinnamon, and white wine. A surprising absence of booze burn for a 57% ABV whisky. I don’t get the floral notes that one associates with Glenmorangie, but I do get a slight trace of dust from time to time. Not enough to detract from the overall quality of the nose, however.
Taste, neat: As with most cask-strengthers, I take just a teeny sip neat, mainly to get an idea as to how much water to add. A good mouthful usually results in little more than burn and hiccups. This is surprisingly gentle on the arrival, with peppery spices dominating, but the flames start the longer you hold it in your mouth.
I think this can stand up to at least two or three spoons of water. Let’s give it a healthy splash and let it set a bit…
Nose: I don’t notice any new elements, although it’s cleaned up a bit (no more dust). It may have lost some heaviness, but it’s also become more crisp and articulate.
Taste: Now we’re into previously uncharted territory, with a long list of unanticipated flavors: apples, pears, cake frosting, butter, ginger, lemon, plus the aforementioned vanilla, honey, and nuts. The malt elements have virtually disappeared, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The finish is dry and a bit strange, in that the warmth lasts long, but the flavors run away rather quickly. Nevertheless, there’s too much going on in my mouth to complain.
It’s a unique whisky, to be sure. The flavors may be familiar, but their abundance, and the juxtaposition of so many contrasts, is one-of-a-kind. If you like a whisky worthy of thoughtful consideration, this is for you. But it’s also highly recommended for those who just like to drink and enjoy.