Sunday, October 11, 2009
Scotch Whisky Review: Glenmorangie La Santa
The La Santa is an "expression" of Glenmorangie -- that seems to be the recent term of art for taking a mature whisky and putting it in a particular type of cask to age again for a short while, in order to impart some additional flavors. In this case, the casks are casks that previously held sherry (a style of Spanish wine made from white grapes and fortified with brandy). Therefore, it is comes as no surprise that this whisky has a reddish-gold color. On the nose, there is a bit of light alcohol burn -- surprisingly light for a whisky bottled at 46% alcohol -- and a strong sherry aroma, together with a bit of oak, lime, and vanilla. There is no smoke, peat, salt, or iodine that I could notice.
In the mouth, this scotch is smoothly textured, quite sweet, and creamy, with what Grace called an "agreeable" burn -- milder than some other whiskies. The flavors remind me of a malty sweet biscuit, or maybe a vanilla sandwich cookie. There's something reminiscent of a marshmallow held in the fire too long, and a citrus note -- is it lime? Or maybe Seville orange marmalade on burnt toast? There is a slightly bitter plastic or burnt flavor similar to the one I noted in the Scapa, and a professional taster would probably know what to call it, but I don't. There is something slightly inharmonious -- like drinking orange while tasting lime peel, as if two of the fruity notes were clashing. I wish I could describe it better than that, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
There is a mildly drying oak in the moderately long warm finish. Water does not improve this whisky, diluting pretty much all the flavors. Grace called the sherry flavor "maple syrup," and gave it an 8.5. I give it an 8. Altogether a very nice whisky, but that slight disharmony between flavors makes me downgrade it just slightly. It isn't quite as "moreish" as the Bunnahabhain, to my taste, but still a very nice dram.
We have two more "expressions" of Glenmorangie to taste: the Quinta Ruban (with a port finish) and Nectar D'Or (with a Sauternes finish). Of course, it wouldn't be fair to taste them without also comparing them to the original Glenmorangie. We'll be tasting all of them over the next few days.