After the Artein disaster I’m hoping for good things from this sample of Glenmorangie’s Sonnalta, which is matured for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks and then “finished” for two years in Pedro Ximinez sherry casks. PX sherry, as the maltheads and old English ladies know, is particularly sticky and sweet. More robust distillates, such as Glendronach’s, hold up well to the cloying PX character, as does Lagavulin (in its Distiller’s Edition incarnation), but how will a more delicate distillate like that of Glenmorangie fare?
This ends my mini-run of recent’ish Glenmorangies and begins a slightly longer run of reviews of sherried malts. There are a couple of particularly decadent treats coming soon.
Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX (46%; double matured in bourbon and PX sherry casks; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A little closed at first but then there’s some raisins and brown sugar along with some pencil lead/graphite and something savoury (beef stock?). With time there’s some orange peel, a hint of cold black tea and a touch of soy sauce. With a drop or three of water there’s some brine/salt and more of the citrus and pencil lead. With some more time the raisins rejoin the party as well. This really swims quite well.
Palate: A little thin in terms of mouthfeel but a lot of flavour. Oranges, raisins, some semi-sweet chocolate. It’s a regulation sherried malt, nothing particularly Glenmorangie about it. It’s also not as sweet as you might expect from the PX finish. In fact, with time there’s a bracing cocoa bitterness as a counterpoint to a slightly amplified orange/tangerine peel note. With water the bitter edge recedes and there is a greater nuttiness now. With a lot more time the winey notes get much more pronounced.
Finish: Medium. The more bitter chocolate notes linger and it gets a little more oaky in its bitterness too. A little sherry separation at the end.
Comments: Like I said, not particularly Glenmorangie, but a perfectly fine sherried malt for when you’re in the mood for a sherried malt that’s not a sherry bomb. It needs a little more grip, I think, a la most sherried Mortlachs. I don’t know that there’s anything about this that distinguishes it from other sherried malts of its ilk (I’d take the Glenfarclas 15 and 17 over it any day) but this is my clear favourite of the three Glenmorangies I’ve reviewed so far and probably the best “finished” Glenmorangie I can remember.
Rating: 86 points.
Thanks yet again to Alex S. for the sample.