Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon first fill
Added coloring: No
Owner: Pernod Ricard
Average price: € 90.00
Official website: www.theglenlivet.com
In Scotland, Gaelic and whisky have always gone hand in hand. Not only do all distilleries bear Gaelic names that often refer to the place where they are located (Glen, for example, stands for “valley”), but also many bottlings are christened with expressions in the Gaelic language that are sometimes a little difficult to pronounce (right, Bunnahabhain?). The Glenlivet is no exception, with this Nàdurra meaning “natural”.
There are three versions of Glenlivet Nàdurra: the one in question, called First Fill Selection, matured in its entirety for an undeclared length of time (some well-informed people say 16 years, but we have no absolute certainties about this) in first fill ex-Bourbon casks; a second, the Nàdurra Oloroso, aged in ex-Sherry Oloroso casks, again first fill; and a third, the Peated Whisky Cask Finish, aged in ex-whisky casks that are “heavily peated”, as the label says, without further notes. All three are produced in small batches, cask strength, without artificial colouring or chill filtration.
As the batches change, so obviously does the strength. Today’s whisky, from batch FF0717, is a remarkable 60.3% ABV.
In the glass, a beautiful light gold colour looks at us.
On the nose, the American white oak barrels used for ageing show their influence with an aroma of vanilla growing over time. Alongside the vanilla, notes of white fruit (apple and pear) and a pleasant ginger spice. At times, the impetus of the alcohol is noticeable, but less disruptive than the alcohol content would suggest. An unusual and unexpected hint of lettuce is coupled with a faint fragrance of pineapple. There’s also a generous sprinkling of icing sugar.
In the mouth, as is always the case when we measure ourselves with important alcoholic strengths, we proceed in micro-sips, to avoid anaesthetising the taste buds. In all honesty, however, here the alcohol content is at times truly overwhelming. White fruit, a particularly mouth-watering scent of shortcrust pastry and a rather clear impression of custard resist the impact undaunted. In the long run, there is also a hint of malt.
The finish, of medium persistence, aligns sensations of white fruit and shortcrust pastry (more evident), and vanilla and pineapple (weaker), with the alcohol taking its time to fade.
The cask strength is both the virtue and the defect of whisky. The merit because it gives body and substance, particularly to the nose, to scents that in 12yo, for example, appear watered down at 40% ABV. The defect is that on the palate, if you aren’t careful, the thrust of the alcohol risks overwhelming every other perception. In any case here we find confirmation of how The Glenlivet is capable, when it gets off the beaten track, of single malts that are anything but predictable.