New Glen on the Block: The Glenlivet 16yr “Nadurra”

There is a new Glenlivet on the block—well, new to me, anyway. While it has been around for some time, I’ve just heard that Glenlivet has a cask-strength, small batch 16 year called the “Nadurra”. I’ve often wondered what the 12 would be like with a little more maturity, and a little more oomph. To the former, I figured it would be somewhere between my Signatorys (Ben Nevis 17, and Mortlach 19) as this is what the nose vaguely reminds me of. Perhaps the age would give it a more robust mouth-feel. On the latter, I figured we’d get bolder flavours, and that the palate would come in like a lion. Now that the dream has been realized, here’s what the good ‘livet brought me:

***Notes based on batch 0911P (Sep, 2011) @ 53% ABV*** (scroll to the bottom to see notes about the 0813Y batch)

Nose:  Green apple Jolly Ranchers. Floral, sweet and prickly without water. Classic first-fill american oak, but with a bouquet of flowers. Pleasant, but this baby needs a little hit of agua. With water, we get rich, thick (if a nose can be thick) floral notes with sweet caramel and honey graham crackers. Reminds me a bit of Golden Grahams cereal. Bananas. Apples. Coastal salt and pepper. Some fine, fresh, unlit tobacco as it sits.

Palate: Hot without water or proper sitting time. Oily and booming in with typical speysidey sweetness. Caramel and citrusy notes, but the real magic happens with a little water (or plenty of sitting time).  With water, very cool anesthetic mouth feel. Still very oily, and booming with those lovely graham crackers, caramel, and apple coffee cake. Very malty. Where the ’91 Mortlach is the appetizer, this is the dessert. Same speyside roots, completely different journeys.

Finish: Medium-long, initially sweet apples with some oak, that migrates to a toasted oakyness over salted buttered bread. Increasingly warming. Ends with that beautiful fresh tobacco again. This may be the dram to have a nice cigarello with. Nothing too heavy, just something to complement. Now here’s something I’d like a flavoured cigar to be dipped in.

Grade: B+

An excellent effort from the Glenlivet distillery, and a trajectory they should be following with all their bottlings. The Nadurra is a lovely, mouth-coatingly mature whisky, that does what I’ve always wanted the Glenlivet 12 to do (and then some). That said, in comparing it to other distilleries that have cask-strengthed (and sometimes batched) something close to a standard offering, the Auchentoshan Valinch and the Bowmore Tempest III are definitely not so hot, despite being at a similar (and for this batch, a slightly higher) ABV. This may just be my mood tonight, but it could have been a bit smoother, especially because it’s got atleast 6 years on both the aforementioned drams.

Update: Ok, the perfect combination is no more than a teaspoon of water, and to let the thing sit a good 10 minutes. That’ll bring it down to the smoothness to what a good 16yo should be. After having the bottle open for a month, the dram improves significantly. It’s like Ralfy said: accidentally leaving the bottle with the cap off overnight improved it noticeably.

Sitting is preferable for this dram, as the viscosity of it is a serious selling point, and is only hurt by water. The nose is bigger and better, and strangely, too much water makes it hotter (and thinner). The finish is also weakened considerably by too much water.

Notes on Further Editions: Instead of re-reviewing the Nadurra’s 0813Y batch, I’ll simply note here that the marks and tasting notes are the same. Compared to the Aberlour a’Bunadh, Glenlivet’s Nadurra has strong consistency here.