The Prodigal Whisky-Glenmorangie Sonnalta-Has Returned for one Final Appearance!

The Sonnalta PX was the first expression in The Glenmorangie “Private Collection” range. For a little over a year it was exclusive to the Kensington Wine Market in Canada. It was one of our best sellers in 2011 and to my great surprise the distributor has found a few more cases for us to play with. We couldn’t be more pleased! The Private Collection range is series of limited edition expressions which will highlight the best of the Glenmorangie style while pushing the bounds of creativity. In Scots Gaelic Sonnalta means “generous”, an appropriate name for this full and complex whisky. Like the Extra Matured whiskies in the Glenmorangie range (Lasanta, Quinta Ruban and Nectar D’Or) the Sonnalta PX has spent approximately 10 years maturing in first fill ex-bourbon casks before a finishing period(extra maturing) in another type of cask. In the case of the Sonnalta it spent an additional 2 years in Spanish Pedro Ximenez casks.

We are seeing a lot of whiskies matured in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks (PX for short) these days. Pedro Ximenez is an intensely sweet and very rich style of sherry. Legend has it that the grape originated in the Canary Islands and from there was introduced to regions along the Rhine in Southern Germany. A Spanish soldier—Pedro Ximenez serving Charles V in the Spanish Netherlands was said to have brought it to Jerez in Southern Spain in his baggage. The rich, sweet, bold sherry was named in his honour. It’s a great story, but may be a bit of a stretch. It is more likely that the grape was brought to Spain by the Moors and renamed after the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula.

Jim Murray’s Tasting Note: Nose: now this works: has that heavy-handed feel of a sweet sherry butt (or five) at work here, usually the kiss of death for so many whiskies. But an adroit praline sub-plot really does the trick. So with the malt evident, too, we have a three pronged attack which somehow meshes in to one. And not even the merest hint of an off-note…goodness gracious: a new experience…!!! Taste: Neanderthal grape drags its knuckles along the big vanilla floor before a really subtle light Columbian coffee kick puts us back on course; sharper vanillas from some awkward oak threatens to send us off course again but somehow finds it settled, common ground; Finish: now goes into orgasmic overdrive, as Demerara sugar is tipped into some gorgeous, cream-lightened mocha. This is obviously to wash down the Melton Hunt cake which is resplendent in its grape and roast nut finery…phew!!! It is, unquestionably, the perfect whisky finish… Balance: this one passed me by. If they told me anything about this chap, I’d forgotten. It absolutely groans from the lucid sweet grape and I discover its actually Pedro Ximenez. Brave. Foolhardy, even. Because over the last decade of studying whiskies matured in that sugary beast the experience has usually ended in tears. Not here, though. This is a gamble that has handsomely paid off: Glenmorangie as you’ve never seen it before. Probably Scotch malt as you’ve never seen before. But after buying one bottle, you’ll be wanting to see it again. A giant among the tall stills.” 96.5/100 Whisky Bible

Malt Advocate Tasting Note: The first of Glenmorangie’s new “Private Collection” line of whiskies for Travel Retail. This one is finished in Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry. With PX being so rich and intense, and Glenmorangie spirit so subtly complex and delicate, does the sherry dominate here? No, it doesn’t. Still, this is viscous and very textural for a Glenmorangie. I’m picking up rhum agricole drenched with honeyed apricot, toffee almond, chocolate-covered raisin, glazed citrus, and cherry pits, all leading to a leathery, tobacco-tinged finish. A visceral whisky with plenty of grip. Great for after dinner. 90/100 pts John Hansell

My Tasting Note: Nose: very elegant, soft and complex on the nose—to steal the words of my employer who sampled it briefly “it is very pretty!”—with a fruity, doughy, French bakery character; notes of honey, vanilla, spice and caramelized fruits dance enthusiastically together while kicking up a dust of assorted powdered, rock and granular sugars; as the nose develops tones of Bourbony vanilla, perfume and white fruit notes emerge; supposedly you can smell sweet… the whisky may have something to say about that; Palate: very soft, complex and deep; right off the bat I am amazed by the bewildering depth and layers, sweet fruits and balancing spices in almost perfect harmony; the creamy honey/vanilla backbone slowly emerges with some burnt orange peel and dark chocolate; thick grassy malt and sweet rum notes are also present with some minty tones; overall sweet, rich and multifaceted; Finish: long, sweet and spicy; sugary malt, honeyed oak and chewy grape tones; Comments: this whisky is a bit of Cameleon, its layers are many, and it shifts its character with each and every sip. The touch is deft for a Pedro Ximenez matured whisky, but the effect is superb. Anyone can enjoy this delightful little dram from the neophyte to the experienced connoisseur! Exclusive to KWM – $74.99



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