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Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX

Robust and stylish...

0 990

@hunggarReview by @hunggar

10th Dec 2013

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    90

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I’m a bit green when it comes to Glenmo’s special releases. I love the Sonnalta, but I haven’t tried much else. I’ve had my heart set on a few of them over the years, but because of price and/or availability, they’ve always escaped me. So far this lovely sherried presentation remains the only one of these coveted releases that I’ve tried. I’d like to change that. But for now, here are my thoughts on the Sonnalta:

Nose: Right away I’m taken with how sweet this is. It’s a veritable fruit basket here, with grapes, raisins, apricots, berries, apples, plums, peaches, and tangerines. Then we have Amaretto, brandy-esque floral notes, caramel, and big oak. Oddly, the thick, syrupy-sweet caramel notes with the prominent oak almost reminds me of bourbon. Ironic, as this also boasts big-time sherry aromas too. This is a complex, sweet, delicate nose.

Palate: Things get a bit bolder here. Creamy arrival. Very fruity, with grapes, apricots, tangerines and floral notes. Leather, brandy, and dark chocolate follow.

Finish: Vanilla comes in big here. More of that grapey/brandy note, malt, apricot, fresh cream, berries, leather, tobacco, cherries, cinnamon and roasted almonds. Behind all that is the Glenmo signature, which is like a creamy vanilla/marmalade note that lingers.

I need to familiarize myself with the bolder releases by Glenmo. They always seem like such light sippers to me. This one is a step in the right direction. Good abv, good intensity, and well-picked sherry casks. I like that they didn’t skimp on the finish, giving it a solid two years in the PX casks.

This represents the sweeter side of sherried whiskies, and I often find myself reminded of Benriach 12 yo Sherry Wood. But this is better. Why? Aside from being more complex, it’s also more refined. Despite being bold and rich, it’s also retained a polished delicacy. As a Glenmorangie release, there’s an intrinsic, built-in softness and gracefulness, no doubt a result of those towering 26-foot stills. It seems to be contradictory, but the boldness marries beautifully with the delicacy. It’s brazen, yet sophisticated. I’ve enjoyed both the budget range and the overpriced Quarter Century. Seems the real gems are the mid-range annual special releases. This is the most robust and stylish release Glenmo I’ve ever tried.

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9 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@hunggar, thank you for an excellent perceptive review. I rated Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX at 90 just as you have, but I would also say that Sonnalta PX drinks bigger and more preferably to me than that number would indicate. I include Sonnalta on my profile favourites list, even though there are whiskies which are not on that list to which I have given higher numbers. I have given a lot of tastings to new whisk(e)y drinkers, and I have found that Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX has been the #1 most universally well-liked whisk(e)y overall among all types of whisk(e)y presented. And, yes, @hunggar, to my surprise, a lot of people who have tried both whiskies for the first time have loved Sonnalta PX and not cared much for Glenfarclas 15.

I notice, too, that Sonnalta seems to have grown on you, compared to the first comments which you made about it online. The first time I tried Sonnalta PX, I thought, "This might be too sweet for me." The second time I drank some I said to myself, "No, it's not too sweet!"

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

Yes, @Victor, this has grown on me. My initial impression was not quite as good as it is now. When it was freshly opened I might have given this 87 or 88. I still prefer my darker, more "brooding" sherried drams, but there's no denying that this is good. Not only that, you're absolutely right about the accessibility of this stuff. I can't imagine anyone disliking it.

You mentioned that this stuff drinks bigger than it scores with you. Actually, it's the opposite for me. I bumped it up a point or two because I think the bold/delicate balance is both unusual and lovely. Since I opened it a couple months ago that balance has really come to the fore.

I suppose that’s where you and I differ. We tend to be on the same wavelength most of the time, but you usually have a deeper appreciation for the sweet than I seem to...

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Your bottle is still young. If anything, Sonnalta PX tends to seem drier to me with air-time, opposite to the tendency of many malts. Most of my drams of Sonnalta have been with the bottle long opened. It has held up well, and after awhile my initial impression that it was quite sweet seemed to disappear.

I may be able to tolerate more sweet than you do, but I greatly dislike unbalanced sweetness, cloying sweetness, or any unnatural-tasting sweetness...and my favourite of all styles is the driest of the dry whisky, US straight rye.

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

This is a once-in-a-while dram for me, so I'll be sure to re-evaluate it in a few months time. Yes, the impression of sweetness has already seemed to have diminished somewhat. Even when opened, however, it was never unbalanced or cloying. It's been a good whisky from day 1.

100% on board with the distinction you made. If it's natural, balanced, and it's not cloying, I'm sure to appreciate it. This Glenmo is a perfect example of quality sweetness. That being said, I will inevitably gravitate towards the "dark side." I'll take a Kavalan Solist or an A'bunadh over this most days. Not everyday, but most days. :)

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Many of us don't yet have the opportunity to "take" a Kavalan Solist. One day.

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

Hah, true. When I next go home rest assured a bottle will find its way to you, my friend.

5 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

It's always nice to see Sonnalta-praising and relive "the first time." You pull out a lot of aromas/flavors-- Wow I need to go back and check! Like you, I also pull the bottle out only occasionally now, and find it gets more "peppery" (drier?), but at the expense of the creaminess of its fresher days. I'll look for your follow-up.

@Victor, I have had exactly the same experience with Glenfarclas 15, expecting newbies to like it as much as I do; the Sonnalta wins out.

Finally, @hunggar, if only you weren't a world apart, at the moment I only lack the Finealta of the series, which I agree are "real gems". I think you'd find the Sonnalta the boldest (except the higher ABV Astar, which I would gladly bottle-swap...), but I'd be curious if the Ealanta would meet your criteria-- I even titled my own review "elegant yet substantial", similar to your description of Sonnalta here. Otherwise I would make sure you've tried the Signet, another Glenmo with "quality sweetness" as you phrase it. In the end that's probably my overall favorite.

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

Thanks, @vanPelt. @Victor and I were discussing just this topic last week. You both seem to enjoy the Signet. I really want to give that one a go above all the other Glenmos. It's recently been added to my wishlist.

And since we're wishing, I wish it wasn't $200.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@hunggar, about Signet: what really makes it especially interesting to me is that it is truly DIFFERENT. Really nothing else tastes very close to it. That is true whether the bottle is at its peak of juiciness, or has dried out from too much air. Another interesting thing I find is that Signet usually makes a very strong impression upon those who drink it...a very good impression, usually. Like other Glenmos, Signet does not exactly knock you over with the intensity of its flavours, though they are very adequately strong. It provides a unique flavour experience. Mr. Murray considers Signet a failure, apparently because it bitters out onto the fiinish. I do not consider that to be a problem, and I've never seen a whisky which I thought used bitterness to better advantage than does Signet. Bitterness in Signet is like an extremely cheesy gimmick which, in this case, completely works.

I paid $ 163.50 total, twice, for bottles of Signet. That's the most I've ever paid for any bottle. I haven't regretted it.

Don't expect Finealta to bowl you over. It's ok, but to me without question the least of the Glenmorangie Private Editions. My sister has a bottle. I'm glad that I didn't buy one.

Ealanta is well worth experiencing,...it's just a question as to whether or not you want to invest in a bottle of it. It is really different in my book, too. If mouthfeel were your god, then Ealanta could be your temple. But mouthfeel is not everything, is it?

5 years ago 0

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