Provenance: Highlands (Scotland)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Agwing barrels: Ex-Bourbon, ex Sauternes Wine
Additional Coloring: Yes
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 58.00
Official website: www.glenmorangie.com
Glenmorangie is a pioneering distillery in terms of whisky ageing. More than thirty years ago, in fact, it began a process of research into casks that set the standard and which, under the guidance of the intrepid Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation, continues to this day.
Glenmorangie’s core range has for some time now included three well-established finishes, albeit with periodic ageing and packaging changes: Quinta Ruban, Lasanta and Nectar d’Or, whiskies aged in ex-Port, ex-Sherry and ex-Sauternes casks respectively.
And it’s the Nectar d’Or that we are tasting today.
Along with Hungarian Tokaji, Sauternes is one of the world’s finest sweet wines. It’s produced in the small town of the same name, just south of Bordeaux, from Semillion and Muscadelle vines (and a small proportion of Sauvignon Blanc), which are attacked by a particular mould, Botritis Cinerea, also known as noble rot because, if well managed, it produces an extraordinary concentration of sugars and acidity. It’s therefore a “musty raisin wine”, and carries scents of candied fruit, apricots, peaches, pineapple, honey, orange, ginger and saffron. But the top Sauternes even go as far as extremely complex notes of hydrocarbon, wax and tannin.
Bottled at 46% ABV without chillfiltration, the Nectar d’Or presented, until the summer of 2019, a declared age: 12 years, 10 spent in ex-Bourbon barrels and 2 in ex-Sauternes barrels. The new version, however, is to all intents and purposes a NAS (No Age Statement), with the specification Sauternes Cask Finish on the label. It’s the latter, in any case, that is under consideration.
The colour lives up to its name: warm gold.
The very first impression on the nose is vinous, but this soon fades. A hint of buttery biscuit, a note of white chocolate (the longest and most intense) and a hint of yellow apple hold up. The olfactory profile is enriched, on a background of well-assorted floral bouquet, by a touch of cedar, a fragrance of straw, a generous sprinkling of nutmeg and a hint of dried apricot.
On the palate, this silky-bodied whisky is perfectly coherent, with an elegant array of aromas that can be traced back to butter biscuit, cedar and dried apricot, generously spiced with nutmeg. Unusual but well-integrated is a hint of polished light wood.
The finish, of medium persistence, leaves a pleasant sensation of biscuit and nutmeg in the mouth.
A risky but ultimately successful refinement for a Glenmorangie that, while influenced by the sweetness of the wine (more on the nose than on the palate), has not abdicated its enviable balance.