We're barely 2 weeks into Christmas and bang! the first big contender for 2012 arrives at our door. Glenmorangie Artein (which is derived from the Gaelic word for stone) follows on from the largely successful experiments the distillery have conducted using additional maturation in unusual wine casks. Pride was matured for an additional ten years in casks which held Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes and Nector D'or a similarly sticky experiment, albeit without such long secondary maturation.
Glenmorangie Artein is one of the distillery's 'Private Editions', based on the Glenmo' Classic but additionally matured in 'barriques' containing 'Super Tuscan' Sassicaia wine. According to Dr Bill Lumsden, creator of the whisky, 'two different ages of extra matured Glenmorangie have been married together- some 15 years old from 1996 and some 21 years old from 1990'.
Sounds intriguing. We haven't always been the best of friends with additional wine maturation, but after tasting the excellent Pride, we're more than prepared to take a 2nd look at this increasingly expressive way to create something different in whisky.
Glenmorangie - Artein - 46% - Lab Preview Sample
Nose: Initially a little note of spirit, giving the impression that this is higher in strength than it actually is, but this quickly subsides into a basket of fruit; think fresh red berries, bananas, candied peels, vanilla and floral wax. Wonderfully light and refreshing. Given time, it develops a tinned fruit note, with creamy vanilla custard, sponge fingers and a touch of the sweet wine. Luxurious trifle? Bang on the money. Lovely.
Palate: Sweet, with a hint of unctuous dessert wine, then into ripe plums, some woody spices, green apple peel and the first crusty bite of a festive toffee apple.
Finish: Lingering fruit notes, then a waxy/woody and surprisingly creamy and honeyed aftertaste.
Overall: Hugely expressive and frankly very easy to write tasting notes on. The fruit and cream intermingle in harmony and underneath, the wine influence doesn't take this too far into the experiment-gone-too-far territory. All in all, a cracking whisky for after dinner, in preference to a glass of sticky....