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Distribution of ratings for this:
--- Neat ---
Nose: Vanilla cream, quickly joined by sharp lemon zest. The sharpness transforms to chilling menthol eucalyptus. If I really search, there is a weak fruit between dry bartlett pear and coconut, with powders of cinnamon and ginger. But mostly the cooling eucalyptus seems to endure.
Palate: Enters soapy mint over white pear, with a tangy punch. From this there builds feisty ginger with pleasant toffee sweetness. After the peak, these become white pepper and sharp almond. There is a lingering burn of red-hot cinnamon.
Finish: The burn eventually cools to dry menthol-anise on underripe pear. A minute later, there is raw cashew and a faint echo of coconut.
--- With water ---
Nose: Vanilla and menthol-anise.
Palate: Smooth caramel entrance. Eucalyptus coolness soon grows, and then bites like zest or pine. This becomes light ginger as caramel sweetly returns (which is the the best part). Nutty almond rises from the caramel, before menthol revisits for the finish.
Finish: Long cool anise and lemon zest, unripe pineapple and drying oak of vanilla & almond.
The Astar is, quite frankly, the first time that Connosr has let me down. I had gained expectations for a creamy and rich lemon-pineapple-coconut-honey treat; instead I find myself with an unbalanced malt that has far too much prickly eucalyptus (for my preferences). While I can enjoy this kind of menthol influence in certain bourbons and ryes, those usually have deeper flavors to compensate (e.g. brown sugar, banana). The Astar, however, is all light (lemon, pine), so it is altogether top-heavy. Purely "refreshing" flavors are welcome in my mouthwash but not in my scotch! The main attribute holding it together is the nutty caramel that appears midpalate.
The worst aspects are exacerbated at the bottled strength; for one of the first times, I believe this malt should have been bottled at 43%. My rating reflects the addition of water; otherwise I would rate the Astar at most 75 neat, without exaggerating my feelings. To turn lemons into lemonade, I could imagine using this as a very nice palate cleanser, either as an apertif or in between plates of a multi-course meal. (However, it should not be used during a whisky tasting flight, as the menthol will contaminate subsequent whiskies!)
I cannot compare this to anything else I have had, due to the above. If someone enjoyed this for the menthol, I would rather direct them to certain bourbons or ryes. If someone enjoyed it for the other light flavors, I would rather direct to something like the Arran Original or Mackmyra Brukswhisky. And I would unhesitatingly direct anyone to Glenmorangie's more recent Private Edition malt, the Ealanta, which also provides fruit and lightness, but with more cream and without the cool burn.