That Proper Send-off: The Glenlivet 16 ‘Nadurra’ (0813Y)

Music: The Sundays, “Wild Horses”

In all its infinite wisdom, the LCBO has decided to (temporarily or otherwise) discontinue carrying the Nadurra. Sure they’ll stock the shelves till they collapse with Glenlivet 12, 15 and 18. They’ll burden the shelves with Glenrothes’s lesser drams, and the uninspired Cardhu. But they just won’t keep the Nadurra. So, for one last hurrah, I bought one of their last bottles to see how it’s changed in the last two years.

Nose: This one is over 57%, a might higher than the 53% of the 0911P. In this way, it can take a couple drops of water, and some time to settle down. The nose is a rich and sweet batch of cotton candy and caramel apple. That carnival concession stand that the Ben Nevis ’93 UCC had in spades, but it is missing a complete second gear. It does have a half-step of sweet white wine in the background (think Riesling or Gewürztraminer, though admittedly, I don’t know my white wines enough to tell you which). A nice touch.

Palate: Oily, sweet that goes to tart, and then savoury. An initial burst of crisp green apple, everything I consider typical Glenlivet to be, a burst of that visualization of what “floral” might taste like, and then chardonnay and french bread. A note of smokiness carries the entire thing through. I am going to miss this whisky so much. I might have to make my way to better stocked shelves in another part of this great land.

Finish: Long finish. Honey-dipped apple. Floral.

Grade: B+

A great dram that is equally as good, if not a tad better for the extra strength over my 2011 batch. Everyone Scotch fan in Ontario I’ve talked to that has tried the Nadurra is livid about this decision by the LCBO, but of course, there might be some selection bias there. Some people would rather have 2 bottles of 12yo, I guess.

“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away…”

Scotch Party VII

This year, I was invited by an old friend to take part in a Scotch party (of which this was the 7th edition). Great drams, and great people. Nothing better than sharing whisky thoughts with those who really, truly, love whisky.

Glenrothes 1995 – B

“The Scotchiest Scotch that Ever Scotched”

This is your sweet, biscuity, desserty dram. It is complex enough to be interesting, but isn’t show-stoppingly enthralling. A solid B that may be something great at 46% or higher. Still reasonably viscous at 43%.

Glenrothes Robur Reserve – B

“A nice, light snack”

In the lineup this evening, this one comes across as the 1995’s little brother. Much of the same, but a little bit more sugary without much more flavour.

Glenlivet XXV – B+

“Aged cherry cough sweets”

Plenty rich, strong cherry and other berries, thick and present, and then it’s gone. Really no finish to speak of, but the rest is really quite pleasant. A plenty good whisky, but at 25 years old, you’d expect much more.

Talisker 57 North – A-

“Warm leather arm-chair”

I began the night with this one, and it was most of what I’d expected. Everything the Talisker 10 should be (and maybe used to be,) but isn’t. Strong peppery leather, coastal salt, and your typical Talisker flavours. Warming like nothing else I’ve ever tried. It’s an excellent whisky for what it does, but it is missing that either solid second gear, or a neat 3rd to get it into the A range.

Tomatin 12 – B-

“A good aperatif”

Sweet, somewhat thin, just all around inoffensive, if not overly interesting.

Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask – B+

“Banana marshmallows”

This one has those banana marshmallows all over it. Sure there is malt, and typical baked speyside goodness, but the note that hits you over the head first and foremost is the banana. It’s quite a delicious Balvenie, that makes me forget about their disaster of a triple cask.

Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve – D+

“Cinnamon Farts”

Just something awful. It’s like the Valinch gone wrong. Nothing but farm.

Bruichladdich Black Art 3.1 (48.7%) – A

“Pungent, sweet, leathery goodness”

The black art is tart, leathery, subtle, but complex. Berries, sherry, sour with light peat all around, and this nice leathery finish. Truly the star of the night.

Longrow CV – B

“Lightly peated, candied citrus.”

I was surprised by this in two ways: it wasn’t all that peated, more of a speysider than a wannabe Islay. It was also sort of disappointing, as I was expecting a show-stopper in this one, on the back of all the hype.

Bowmore 15 Darkest – B+

“Dark, rich, sherry almost-monster”

A bit of a dark horse for me. I was expecting something weak and mildly inoffensive. It’s sherry, raisins and chocolate. A bit medicinal on the palate, which makes it kind of a one-two punch of dark sherry sweet, and Islay smoky. They’ve done a nice job with this one, and might be worth about $80. The almost $100 that it comes in at here in Toronto is way too much to ask, however.

BenRiach Bernie Moss – C+

“Lightly peated, slightly sweetened new-make

A poor man’s Longrow CV. The peat isn’t very strong, and neither is much of the flavour.

All in all, a successful night with the lads. Looking forward to next year, when we raid the LCBO stocks again.

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.

A tale of two Glens: Review double-header

This is a story of two Glens–perhaps the two most popular Glens in the Single Malt world. (note, I said popular, not spectacular.) This is a story of Glenfiddich 12, and Glenlivet 12. Every maltmuncher has one, and so mine is just a story and not the story, of course.

Both of these whiskies made their way to my cabinet as gifts. At ~$45 a bottle, they seemed like great ‘everyday dram’ bottles, but not being an everyday-dram kind of guy, I never picked up a bottle (I’d rather have a dram of Laphroaig QC or An Turas Mor on Wed-Fri-Sat then a finger of Glenfiddich 12 all week.) After trying both of them (spoiler) I don’t think my rule will change.

Glenfiddich 12

Nose:  Candied fruit, sweetness. Pretty weak.

Palate: Deliciously smooth, a wonderful, albeit simple, sweet treat of candied fruit, with some hints of vanilla.

Finish: Medium at best.

Grade: C+

Glenlivet 12

Nose: Wow. A booming bouquet of floral and apple juice. Crunchy type, like a granny smith or a mac.

Palate: Comes in a little weak to start, with what the nose promised: apple, creamy sweetness, and strangely, a faint hint of peat. Closer to the finish, the flavours step it up. I wish the palate would have come in more like a lion.

Finish:Surprisingly long.

Grade: C+

It’s funny that these reviews suggest that with the nose and finish of the Glenlivet, and the palate of the Glenfiddich, this might be a solid B whisky, up there with the Highland Park 12. However, these deficencies cost them points, and I can’t say I’d necessarily buy a bottle again for anything other than a party, or perhaps if we were burning our palates with cigars, the Glenlivet would provide an excellent nose/finish accompaniment. That said, if I walk into a bar and they have these two, and the Macallan 10 Fine Oak, or the Glenmorangie original, I’ll take either of these, with the Glenfiddich winning the day by a hair. Part of me wants to say that “anyone on a budget would find these a great deal”, but I might eat those words when I review my other gift, the Aberlour 10 yr in about a week.