Back in 2008, Glenmorangie created Astar (Scots Gaelic for “journey”), a single malt whisky entirely matured in bespoke oak casks from the Ozark mountains of Missouri, designed to impart the wood’s maximum flavour to the spirit.  Today, Glenmorangie Astar returns with a limited-edition release.

Glenmorangie has always regarded the oak casks in which whisky matures as vital to the quality of the final spirit. Such is the distillery’s dedication to sourcing the ideal wood for whisky maturation, that its skill in cask management has been long renowned throughout the industry.

The Astar’s custom-made casks began their journey in the Ozark mountains of Missouri, where Glenmorangie carefully selected slow-growth oak trees, for their porous structure. Staves were cut from these oaks to the Distillery’s exact specifications. Then, they were left to season in the open air for at least two years, to breathe and soften. After being coopered into oak casks, they were gently toasted to contribute further flavours of almond and coconut. Filled with bourbon, they were set aside to mature for four years to smooth away any rawness.  Finally, they were emptied, shipped to Scotland and filled with Glenmorangie’s delicate and complex spirit, for a long, slow maturation.

Astar’s first, limited release was much coveted. And ever since, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks, Dr Bill Lumsden, has longed to revisit the single malt’s unique character. But casks designed to such precise specifications require many years and much dedication to create.  Indeed, they are so rare, that it has taken Dr Bill almost a decade to orchestrate the whisky’s return.  For 2017, he brings Astar back to life in a new limited-edition which displays all the smooth, creamy depths for which its predecessor was renowned.  Delivered at a slightly lower strength, Astar’s renaissance also delivers a newfound richness and complexity.

Dr Bill said: “At Glenmorangie we are always searching for perfection – and Astar’s first release, entirely matured in our designer casks, was a momentous step on our journey. I’m delighted to be able to share the 2017 release with more single malt lovers – and to celebrate with them the whisky’s wonderfully creamy, spicy aromas and silky tastes of soft fruit smothered with vanilla custard.”

Glenmorangie Astar is non-chill-filtered for extra texture and bottled at 52.5% ABV. Available in the UK from September priced at RRP: £74.00.

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Tasting Notes:

Colour: Bright gold

Aroma:  Rich, sweet and fruity with fresh bright floral top notes. At full strength, the aroma is rich in butterscotch and honey, drizzled with fresh mint and a burst of coconut. The nose is full of citrus: freshly squeezed lemons fill the nose. With water, the sweetness intensifies. White sugar, lemon meringue, then creamy and luscious sweet fruits: pineapple, pears and peaches in vanilla ice-cream.

Taste: The mouth-feel is deliciously smooth, rich and creamy, full of sumptuous sweet and fruity flavours.  The taste is exceptionally well-rounded and balanced.  Initially crème-brulée emerges with more tropical and stone fruits.  Apricots smothered with vanilla custard.  Hazelnuts in soft buttery fudge mix with some clove spiciness and toasted oak.  Shortly after, the palate is gently cleansed by a hint of cooling mint and fresh menthol.

Finish: Long and smooth with a lingering mix of honey and almond, coconut ice and traces of aniseed.

About Glenmorangie:

Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky originates in the Scottish Highlands where, at the Glenmorangie Distillery, it is distilled in the tallest malt whisky stills in Scotland for a purer spirit, expertly matured in the finest oak casks for great depth, and perfected by the Men of Tain, who have passed their skills down the generations, often from father to son.  These select craftsmen go to unseen lengths to ensure that Glenmorangie is made in the same unhurried, uncompromising way as it always has been.  The Distillery was founded in 1843 and is renowned as a pioneer in its field, uniting tradition with innovation.

About Glenmorangie’s designer casks:

Glenmorangie has long been renowned as a pioneer in wood management.  As part of its ongoing pursuit of perfection, the Highland Distillery began to develop its designer casks programme in 1991, as ideal casks were becoming increasingly hard to find.  Glenmorangie was the first distillery to adopt the recommendations of an official research programme and to begin using casks made from specific wood, air-dried for precise periods. Glenmorangie has used its hand-selected, slow-growth, American white oak casks for the entirely bespoke maturation of Glenmorangie Astar, and to inform the character of the Distillery’s signature whisky Glenmorangie The Original.  The Distillery continues to lead the field in wood-management techniques.

About the journey of the designer casks:

Glenmorangie is renowned throughout the whisky industry for its expertise in wood management.  The Distillery sources the slow-growth American white oak of its designer casks from the Ozark Mountains, in Missouri.  Such oaks tend to grow on north-facing slopes – areas that have less light, more shade, and less moisture in the soil.  The resulting tight-grained structure of their wood has higher concentrations of the naturally-occurring compounds lignin and lactone, which bring to the whisky silky, creamy textures and flavours of vanilla, coconut, almond and honey flavours.  The slow-growth trees which Glenmorangie selects have an abundance of early wood – the wood that is formed from spring growth.  Although late wood (grown in summer and autumn) typically makes up the bulk of a tree’s woody material, early wood is more porous.  And so, it allows more contact between spirit and wood, bringing more wood flavours to the whisky.  When cut into staves, the wood is air-seasoned for about two years, to break down the internal structure of the wood, and release softer, sweeter flavours.  Without air-drying, a bitterness and astringency may be detectable.  The staves are then handcrafted into casks, lightly toasted and heavily charred to Dr Bill Lumsden’s precise specifications, and filled with bourbon for at least four years, for seasoning.  Only then, are the casks ready to make the journey to the Glenmorangie Distillery to be filled with its delicate spirit.  Their overall effect is to bring a sweeter, richer, smoother, more rounded profile to the whisky.

About Dr Bill Lumsden:

Dr Bill Lumsden is Glenmorangie’s acclaimed Director of Whisky Creation, Distilling & Whisky Stocks.  Dr Bill is regarded by the malt whisky industry as an innovator, creating whiskies which have revolutionised the single-malt market.  In recognition of his team’s work, The Glenmorangie Company was named Distiller of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in 2012.  Dr Bill, who has a PhD in biochemistry, has combined art and science in his work since he joined The Glenmorangie Company in 1995.  He is renowned for his groundbreaking wood management techniques, experimentation with exceptional casks at various ages, and use of extra-maturation.  Dr Bill has won a series of prestigious awards and accolades.  He recently added to his plaudits by winning the International Whisky Competition’s award for Master Distiller of the Year 2016 and 2017.  He was further honoured with the title of Master Distiller/Blender of the Year, at Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky 2016 awards.

Responsible Drinking:

The Glenmorangie Company advocates responsible drinking and suggests that drinkers savour Glenmorangie whiskies in moderation and in line with recommended daily guidelines for alcohol consumption.

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