Glenmorangie released Astar way back in 2008. The concept was a weird one: It was a single malt entirely matured in oak from the Ozark mountains of Missouri, “designed to impart the wood’s maximum flavor to the spirit.” These barrels were toasted then filled with bourbon for four years before being emptied and shipped to Scotland to be filled with new-make single malt.
Astar was a one-off release (seeing as the barrels used were a one-off experiment), but nearly 10 years later, Dr. Bill Lumsden has orchestrated a revival, using the same Ozark wood. The new Astar as a bit different than the original — namely it has dropped from the original 114.2 proof — but the approach is otherwise the same.
Astar is heavy duty on the nose, not just driven by the wood but by the spirit itself. Things kick off with brisk lemon honey notes at first, followed by plenty of wood overtones driven by the Ozark-sourced wood. That wood mutes some of Glenmorangie’s characteristic floral notes, leaving behind more savory aromas that ultimately verge on mushroom and tobacco leaf, leaving things surprisingly earthy in the end.
The palate is quite racy at full strength, but here the lemon notes shine brightly before venturing down a path that takes you to roasted nuts, an amontillado sherry character, dried fruits, a melange of gingerbread/baking spices, and more of that intense wood character, here bordering on slightly smoky at times. Water helps the various flavor elements meld more fully, leading to a surprisingly savory yet complex finish.
Definitely worth a look.
B+ / $100 / glenmorangie.com