Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Glenmorangie 12 Year Old Lasanta

Following the revival of Super Single Malts with the look at the cask strength Talisker 57° North, today’s sampling takes a look at the rather more mainstream Glenmorangie Lasanta (or La Santa / LaSanta depending on how you like it written), which is much more accessible to purchase. I picked up my 35cl bottle in my local Sainsbury’s supermarket.

The Lasanta, whilst sounding enigmatically foreign is actually Gaelic for warmth and passion. The whisky is matured in ex-Bourbon casks of American white oak for 10 years, before being transferred to finishing casks for two years. The casks chosen to finish the Lasanta are Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain. It is presented non chill-filtered at an ABV of 46%.

Chill-filtering is a process used by distilleries before bottling the final whisky.
Most whiskies are initially filtered to remove the sediment, particularly particles of wood from the burnt insides of the ex-Bourbons casks, from the liquid as this is off-putting to consumers. However, chill-filtering is a method which goes one step further to ensure a visually stable product that will not go cloudy if water or ice is added to it. It involves lowering the temperature of the whisky down to around freezing point, 0°c, whereby proteins and oils which cause the cloudiness clump together and then can be removed through passing through a fine adsorption filter. However, this process extracts components of the whisky which affect the nose and taste.

In presenting the Glenmorangie Lasanta as non chill-filtered, the full impact of the sherry cask finishing can be appreciated.

Glenmorangie is globally one of the bestselling whisky brands, along with Glenfiddich and Glenlivet following a strong focus on marketing during the 1990’s. Part of the Moët Hennessey stable, the distillery has actively pursued the idea of finishing the Glenmorangie Original 10 year old in a variety of different casks to produce different expressions. Alongside the Lasanta with a sherry finish are the Nectar D’or which is finished in Sauternes (a sweet French wine) casks and Quinta Ruban which is finished in Port casks. These expressions are finished for 2 years, resulting in a 12 year old bottling.

Glenmorangie is classified as a Highland whisky with the distillery located in the North West Highlands just outside Tain. Water is sourced from the Tarlogie Springs which is the product of rain which has forced its way through layers of limestone and sandstone. These natural minerals give it a hard water quality unique to Glenmorangie amongst Highland distilleries.

On removing the Lasanta from its outer box, you can immediately see the influence of the sherry casks on the final product. Through the bottle, the whisky has a golden amber appearance with reddish hues present. It is an inviting and appealing colour.

First on the nose is the sweet scent of honey and oak, reminiscent of Church pews. Rolling it in the glass opens up sultanas and raisins mixed with candied peel. There is a slight hint of pastry, perhaps culminating in a raisin danish drizzled with icing.

On the palate the Lasanta is not perhaps as sweet as the nose would suggest, on the tongue it is fairly liquid and loose. Whilst honey is evident, the woody oak is the more dominant factor translating from nose to palate. The sultana, raisin and candied peel combine with the finishing of sherry to give a hint of Christmas cake. In the background is the essence of almond and the slight warming of pepper, not a strong black peppercorn but a milder, softer white peppercorn.

The finish of the Lasanta is warming with a spike of the pepper present. It is medium in length.

To summarise, the Lasanta is a perfectly drinkable sherry finished single malt. The nose is pleasant and the palate throws up no surprises from the initial senses. It is a refined finish with no sharp burn of alcohol, but a warming presence in the finish. It would be interesting to take a look at the Quita Ruban and Nector D’or to see how these finishes compare.

On reflection, having sampled the Glenfiddich 12 year old and Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve and 18 year old expressions, I would say that thus far this Glenmorangie 12 year old Lasanta is preferable. 

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