Friday, April 15, 2011

The Glenlivet Nàdurra (16yr 59.7% alc)

This bottle was given to me as a gift last Christmas. My brother asked me what I wanted, so my kneejerk reaction was, "How about a bottle of Scotch? Surprise me." And surprised I was. This wildly complex dram springs forth from Speyside country in Scotland, but unlike its clanmates at the Glenlivet distillery this whisky remains unmolested by modern filtration techniques - hence the name. Nadurra is Gaelic for 'natural'. The lack of chill-filtering leaves the drink at 'barrel-strength' which is as imposing as it sounds. The alcohol content is enhanced, but so is the experience.

The price of $70 is not unreasonable given the nature of the product. It is meant to be savored, drunk slowly and in moderation. Besides, at 114 proof, more than a glass or two and you will literally be pissing the natural goodness right out the window (or off the roof, or into the neighbors bushes). But I digress...

On to the review:

NOSE: The initial whiff was a strong blast of ethyl, which reminded me of a doctor's office from my childhood. While I appreciated the nostalgia, my heart began to sink in preparation of oncoming disappointment. However, once my olfactory system had a chance to collect itself, a pleasant sweetened scent emerged. After leaving the doctor's office, I was treated to pleasing aromas of vanilla, honey, sweet bread and a hint of roasted almond.

PALATE: With such a paradoxical nosing, my taste buds were preparing for an equally perplexing experience. Again, I was surprised because the initial taste was quite unsurprising. The strength provided a mix of sweet and hot - an experience similar to Indian dishes featuring garam masala. Given the high alcohol content, this was surprisingly smooth and easy to drink. A bit dry, but this becomes an advantage later...

FINISH: The finish is where this whisky really lets you have it. I've consumed nearly half a bottle over the past few days simply to re-experience the long and complex end game between my perception and senses. When the flavor comes rushing in, my taste buds fire so many signals that my brain becomes hopelessly lost. Only after serious practice and mental fortitude was I able to decipher the messages transmitted from my tongue.

The start-of-the-finish is remarkably unsweetened - with a touch of peat, a splash of bitters, and dried flowers. After an interesting bit of tingle throughout the mouth, a complete about-face occurs and what seems to be a bowl of honey-nut cheerios materializes from thin air. Successive tastings have yielded similar sweetened cereal/grain experiences (banana bread, vanilla granola, etc...). This second stage finish is quite strong as well, filling the entire mouth with the sweetened grain. It is good.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The twists and turns provided by this whisky justify the entrance fee. The taste is good, and the finish is astounding. I did my tastings neat and chilled with whisky rocks. Adding ice brings a tad more flavor, but severely diminishes the characteristic aftertaste. Do yourself a favor and keep this away from the ice bucket. Very unique and worthy of a spot in your cabinet. Use it to impress your friends who are used to drinking the same ol' scotch. Or keep it for yourself as a nice cool-down after a tough day in the salt mines. Either way, this is the natural choice for your next bottle.

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