For me, the products of the Glenmorangie distillery have always been a mixed bag. The wine-forward nature of the Lasanta might be your thing, but I don't know if it's working here for me.
We'll start with the role of Dr. Bill Lumsden, the head distiller at Glenmorangie. Dr. Bill is praised by some and loathed by others for being a tireless pioneer and advocate of “cask finishing.” We've written more about cask finishing elsewhere as a general phenomenon, but the general argument is that by maturing whiskies at the end of their life cycle in port, madiera, sauternes, or sherry casks (to name but a few), you're brute forcing more overt flavors into the native spirit rather than letting them occur naturally.
To my palate, Glenmorangie is a perfect example of a light spirit that functions as something of a chameleon when it's put into different casks for an extra two years. Perhaps for that reason, Dr. Bill decided that the distillery should offer not one, not two, but three different cask-finished versions of the Glenmorangie 10: the Nectar D'Or, the Quinta Ruban, and the Lasanta. Today, we're talking about the Lasanta, which spends the final two years of maturation in sherry casks.
Compared to the port of the Quinta Ruban or the Sauternes of the Nectar D'Or, the Lasanta's use of sherry makes it the most traditional of the three cask-finished GlenMos. The nose hints at a lot of red-wine like flavors, including red grapes (no surprise there), vanilla, tea, wood, and raisins. There's also a distinctive “forest floor” set of aromas that brought to mind some pinot noirs I've had.
The Lasanta is soft, gentle, and dry on the tongue. More so than a lot of sherried whiskies I've tried—if I had to guess based on a blind tasting, I would have guessed it was actually finished in burgundy or cabernet. There's a bit of earth and tobacco, but the lemony citrus I associate with the standard Glenmorangie 10 comes forward to assert itself. With a splash of water, I was able to awaken some grass and bitter breakfast tea with some butterscotch and toffee. And yet, while there's a lot of complexity, none of the flavors on their own are bold enough to make an impact.
I might be able to forgive that quality if I felt the tastes ever seemed to work in unison. For me, I continued to experience that disjunction into the finish. Fading out, the Lasanta leaves behind a bit of the moss and oak I smelled from the nose, but there's also some faint sourness, bitterness, and astringency I didn't care for. At an average price of $45.99, the Lasanta falls just a bit short of me being able to recommend it, and after having it a few times there's nothing about the overall experience that makes me want to rush back and try it once more.
I think part of the issue comes from the quality of GlenMo's new make spirit. As I'll mention in more detail via future reviews, I think the Quinta Ruban obliterates the lemony, tart citrus with the port finishing (not a bad thing in my book), whereas the Nectar D'Or's Sauternes finishing is a little more compatible with the lighter nature of GlenMo 10. Two different directions, but both are more successful, I feel.
The Lasanta isn't bad, but those I know who have given it a try have generally found it to be underwhelming—it's an odd combination of citrus and red wine that struggles to develop true character. I'd say it's worth a try, but only after you've had the other two finishes and possibly the 10-year just as a point of comparison.