Glenmorangie Lasanta, a Scotch to fight the fall chill

Lasanta250.jpg
Photo:Shawn Jones
Lasanta at the SLP Woodfire
Glenmorangie Lasanta $14

St. Louis Park Woodfire Grill
6501 Wayzata Boulevard, St. Louis Park
952.345.0505; www.slpwoodfiregrill.com

As many delicious cocktails as there are in these Twin Cities, something about the chilly damp weather in fall always brings me back to my first love: whisky, specifically Scotch whisky. My quest for warmth led me to the St. Louis Park Woodfire Grill (formally the Alaska Eatery).

On the shelves they have all the usual suspects, Macallan and the likes, but they also have a few you won't find at just any bar. One of these, the Glenmorangie "Lasanta," caught my eye, and I asked to read the bottle. Lasanta, as it turns out, is the Gaelic word for "warmth and passion," which sounded exactly like what I was looking for.

I ordered mine neat (without ice, straight out of the bottle) but with a few cubes on the side. I gave the beautiful amber nectar a swirl and inserted my snout into the glass to see what it told me. Toffee was the first thing I got, followed by an array of spices just on the tip of recognition. My first sip brought me layers and layers of rich caramel and warm spices. I was already in love.

To be called Scotch, whisky must be produced in Scotland, distilled twice, and aged in wood for at least three years. The term "single malt" means the whiskey in the bottle is made from 100 percent malted barley and that it was all distilled in a single distillery. The type of wood used for maturation is open to the distiller to choose. Many choose bourbon barrels for at least the first portion of maturation, partly because bourbon barrels are cheap (bourbon distillers are only allowed to use virgin oak barrels for their maturation and are willing to part with the spent ones for less) and partly because they add richness and complexity to the spirit. Often the distillers will move the spirit into a second vessel for further maturation. In this case, they used Spanish casks once used to mature Olorosso Sherry. The contribution this makes is noticeable at first sip: The rich, warm flavors of the sherry left in the barrels really complement the citrus and toffee notes of the malt.

All the time Scotch spends in wood adds oils to the whisky, which can be separated by adding a few drops of water or an ice cube, which is what I did next. One cube and a gentle swirl made the oils visible in the glass and opened up the nose quite a bit. If you're a longtime fan of Scotch, or if you've never tried it, give this one a shot. You might be surprised.

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