Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Glenmorangie The Lasanta 12 years

To have a basic understanding of the Glenmorangie Distillery, you need to start with Glenmorangie Original (pictured above).

The Original is a ten year old single malt.  An introductory single malt that is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks (American oak) from Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels.  Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that the malt is light bodied and enjoys flavors of citrus/orange, peach, mint and coconut.

Several other Glenmorangie releases basically stand on the shoulders of the Original.  While the Original is a 10 year old single malt, several other bottlings from this distillery are 12 years, and those additional ("extra matured") two years involve time in casks other than American oak.  Accordingly, their "extra matured" product line is composed of (1) Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (extra matured in port casks from Portugal); (2) Glenmorangie Lasanta (extra matured in sherry casks from Spain); and (3) Glenmorangie Nectar D'or (extra matured in Sauternes casks from France).  Clearly, this is a distillery that is well known for single malts with various "finishes."

'Finishing' a whisky refers to aging a whisky briefly for one or two years (could be more I suppose as there are no hard & fast rules) in a different cask that usually has previously held sherry, wine, port or other interesting spirit that is thought to compliment and nicely accent the distillery's whisky.

And that concept brings us to the subject of this evening's review: Glenmorangie The Lasanta 12 years

Nose (undiluted)
Limes, oranges, raspberries, fog hanging over a bay, and brine of the sea in the air.

Palate (undiluted)
Powerful arrival of sweet sherry!  Huge!  Big and spicy, raisins, plums, prunes and oak somewhere underneath.  A tad fiery upon first opening bottle.  Let a week pass and what was once hot becomes great warmth.

Finish (undiluted)
Tingling oak, drying with smoke and somewhat winey.

General Impressions
This is not a single malt that makes me swoon like a teenage girl at a midnight showing of Twilight.  The Lasanta is an entry level sherry bomb.  Not particularly sophisticated.  Not what I would regard as exhibiting great complexity of flavors.  But, it does deliver a nice velvety blanket of sherry, raisins and dark spiced fruits.

The price is very reasonable and among the lowest in the 12 year old single malt market segment.  For that reason, I think you are getting fair value for the dollar.

It is chill filtered with an ABV of 46%.  Hence, it packs a wallop.  A few drops of water is needed to tame the wild and sometimes a tad hot palate.  For some, they may want a teaspoon to a double pour.

When I first opened the bottle, the malt tasted a little hot and very slight bitterness on the finish.  It softened up a bit after a week, becoming less hot and more like very concentrated dark chocolate.  This is a bottle that gets better (up to a point) the longer it is open (within reason - ie. 4-6 months max).

The initial hot/bitter elements in taste are due in part to the high abv (46%) and the use of wood by the master distiller.  Remember the Lasanta, for the first 10 years of its life was essentially the Original (a spirit aged exclusively in American oak), and then in a mere two further years of finishing becomes a bombastic sherried malt.  The casks used were probably first fill sherry casks/butts for the most part.  The use of such potently seasoned casks/butts may contribute to some 'woody' elements of taste and bitterness.

In any event, you should not be overly concerned about how it tastes upon opening because a little time and maybe some water will tame it to your liking.  In general, this Glenmorangie is rather sweet once the bottle has been open for a bit.

This is a solid effort in the entry level sherried 12 year old malt marketplace.  Lasanta competes with others like: Aberlour 12GlenDronach 12Balvenie Doublewood 12, and Glenfarclas 12.  Is it the best of the sherried whiskies?  Probably not, but is at or near the lowest price point.  Something to consider in these times.


Jason Debly

P.S. - Want an example of a home run hit by this distillery?  Try the Quinta Ruban.
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission.  Please note the photograph of the bottle of Glenmorangie was taken by Flickr member picmaker1 and he is the holder of all copyright.  His photograph may not be reproduced without his permission.  All other photographs were taken by Jason Debly and may be reproduced with credit and link back to this site.


  1. Of the extra-matured Glenmorangies, the one I'd liked best was the Nectar D'Or, followed by Lasanta. Quinta Ruban was just too syrupy thick for me. What I'd liked best about the Nectar D'Or was that it was the one which seemed most like the original (the brandy-ish effervescence is what does it for me with Glenmo). That said, I was tasting the extra-matured versions only out of minis, so not a huge amount of spirit to explore. I'd probably buy a full of any of them at the right price in the right mood.

    I did make a killer home blend with some of the Lasanta, though. Maybe 30-40% Lasanta, 20-30% Powers Gold Label, 10-20% Ardbeg 10, 10-20% Bowmore Legend. Rich, warming, just sweet enough.

    It lead me to resolve to keep a home-blend or two going. Not quite a living cask, but bits and pieces of whatever good Scotch/Irish whiskies I have, and a second of Canadian/American whiskies. I'm starting over due to having moved without my spirits, but I look forward to the project.

  2. A member of my whisky club is really impressed with the Nectar D'Or too. I hope to procure a bottle soon.

    Your 'home blend' truly sounds intriguing. That is one area I have no experience in. But, will have to delve into at some point and maybe write about.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Nice review. I love Glenmorangie 10. At first I found it pretty uninteresting; but just keep drinking it. somewhere down the bottle (don't worry, I didn't get there in one sitting) I just came to enjoy every sip.
    I had only heard praise for the Quinta Ruban and went on to purchase a bottle. Yes, it is good. But I didn't enjoy is near as much as the regular 10 year old.

    Anyway, how's it coming with that note on Springbank 15. As far as I recall, you wrote in an earlier post that you would get back to that one soon. Again, the 10 year old is amazing, and I was sort of planning on buying the 15 year at some point.

    1. I can understand that if a person is a huge fan of the 10 year old they might find the Quinta Ruban not to their liking as it is a lot more punchy and exhibiting quite a different flavor profile.

      Ahh the Springbank 15. Yeah, I lost my photographs to it when my daughter dropped my crackberry in a swimming pool. So, it delayed the posting. I gotta get that out though because it is a fine dram.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. I had a bottle of Lasanta a year ago. I don't know about yours, but mine had some disturbing sulphur in it (it appears it's quite common with sherry-cask whiskies). Since it also had no amazing depth to it, I was overall unimpressed. I worked hard to finish half of the bottle and then I gave it away. This made it all the more surprising when months later I tasted the Original - fresh, elegant, easy-drinking but complex - a fascinating whisky. I did not see that one coming! I remember your warm endorsement of the Quinta Ruban, and will try that one soon!

    1. You have touched on an issue that I have read about online, heard from friends, but not experienced myself: quality assurance issues. Apparently, there is some variability from batch to batch. Of course, no two batches are identical from any distillery, but the challenge of the Master Distiller is to maintain consistency of flavor profile.

      With respect to the Quinta Ruban, I think there has been a variation where the distillery has hit a real high note, tremendous malt, that outshined previous years production. The Quinta Ruban that I picked up this year is fantastic at twice the price I paid. A friend of mine picked up a bottle and he agrees too.

      The Lasanta is a basic sherried whisky that delivers what you expect at the affordable price point.

      As for the sulphur notes, I have read about it from others too, but it was not my experience with this particular bottling.


  5. I was at Glenmorangie yesterday and it is surprising to see the total change in their product line from a couple of years ago. It's all about cask finishes now and not age statements or limited managers releases. The colours are impressive from their core range now. The 25 year old remains the king of the hill but to me, its a distillery in search of an identity again. Get the Tain men back to work!

  6. I'm finding the Lasanta rather interesting because the two years in sherry casks kind of buries the flavor notes of the Original. Though they both have very similar finishes (drying with a hint of smoke), the citrus and vanilla notes I get in the Original are practically hidden by the sherry finishing of the Lasanta.

    1. It's really interesting what this distillery has achieved. There is so much room for error but so far they have not allowed the wood to dominate and overtake the spirit's character. A testament to the expertise of the master distiller and team.

  7. I drink with 30 or 40% added water. Wait for 10 minutes before I start sipping in. That makes a HUGE difference in this whiskey. It appears much more complex and rich. Extends the finish a lot. Enjoyed every sip from opening to finishing.

  8. I've tried all three of the finished Glenmorangies and the LaSanta is my least favorite. The "flor" aspect of the sherry is relatively overwhelming and lingers.
    My tasting setup was as follows: a glass of LBV port, a glass of Amontillado (sherry) and then the La Santa and Ruban. the LBV is really echo'd in the Qruban but the La Santa was relatively unbalanced versus the amontillado - in a way the ratio between nose and taste was very much slanted in the nose direction. I suspect that's where the sulphur comments come from. IMHO the q ruban is a very successful finish but unfortunately the sherry one much less so. I wonder how old the sherry barrels were they used - sherry goes through the solera system so it could be anywhere from 1 to 20+ years. The LaSanta didn't have much oak which may be because the barrels were old?

    1. I certainly agree with your astute observations.

      La Santa always seemed to taste a little rough, uneven and frankly I suspect due to the use of inferior sherry casks. The wood management might be to blame.

      The low price point is commensurate with what you get, but again Balvenie Doublewood does a better job for a few dollars more if you seek a sophistication and smooth taste. For a more vibrant sherry taste, try The GlenDronach 12.

      LaSanta is one of those that I dont go back to. Always grab other offerings. Intuitively, I know it just is ok. Why have mediocrity when something else is better? Price is usually the answer.