Glenlivet distillery is one that I have had little experience of and naturally I jumped at the chance when a good friend offered me a sample from his bottle of "Nàdurra"
Nàdurra being the Gaelic word for "natural", it comes as no surprise that this expression is a no holds barred, cask strength, beast of a dram. It continues to impress, whilst in the bottle, with information stating it's age of 16 years, the fact that it is non chill-filtered and has been matured in first fill bourbon barrels.
This particular batch is 0113V which was bottled, in January 2013, at a whopping strength of 56.9% ABV. This expression can usually be found in supermarkets for around £50 and is also often discounted during key holidays such as Christmas and Father's Day.
With all the boxes seemingly ticked it only leads me to wonder why more distilleries don't offer so much apparent quality for a relatively small cost. These thoughts are also relevant when talking about the current "NAS vs Aged Whisky" argument but I'll save my views on that for another time.
Onto my notes:
My first observation is that the whisky sits in the glass whilst displaying a beautiful oily texture that coats the sides well.
Nose - Intense spirit with big spices that touch on chilli pepper. Buttered citrus and lemon oil. Distinct white wine notes that intensify to almost grappa. Vanilla is light and gentle with hints of green apple. The fire of spice continues but never overpowers the spirit nor does it ever become too harsh. Slight touch of dustiness also evident in here. As the heat lessens we move back to a candied sweetness which is clean, crisp and fragrant with a little perfume appearing too.
Palate - Sweet, sweet fresh fruits that move over to allow the intense heat to come through. Prickly, peppery heat arrives and oh my is it a serious kick. This is more of an eye opener than was evident on the nose but thankfully it stops short of being unenjoyable, but only just. More green apple and a touch of clove are the main points before I add a good amount of water. This whisky can take the water so don't be afraid. This allows the spice to subside a fair amount and the sweetness to return. Sweet malt, lemon sweets, apples and oranges. There's some more dusty notes in here which give a good sense of the oak.
Finish - Huge sour apple sweets with more warmth. Even after 5 - 10 minutes the apple taste is still rattling around the mouth.
Overall this is an enjoyable dram that pushes the boundary of harshness. Big on the sweet fruits and spices this whisky really does not hold back. I love the fact that this is delivered in such a natural form and much prefer this to a bottle of 40% averageness that's been thrown together. Whilst this may not be to everyone's taste I feel whiskies like this can be of huge benefit when starting out on your whisky journey. These types of expressions should be treated with patience which should allow even the most novice a chance to get into a whisky over time and find those notes that come from spirit and cask.
I'll be honest and say that whilst this hasn't knocked my socks off it is certainly a bottle I wouldn't think twice about buying and keeping in my collection as spirit that's been presented in this light can last a long time and always offer something different each time you reach for it.
Huge thanks to Jamie for the sample.
Until next time,