Thursday, January 9, 2014

Whisky Review: Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year

While I did a vertical tasting of Glenlivet's core range a little while ago, I wanted to review this one on its own terms, since the cask strength bottling puts it in a different category.

Nadurra is produced in batches of ex-bourbon cask whisky that aren't diluted with water before bottling. I had fairly high hopes, as I generally prefer cask strength whiskies, but the disappointment of Glenlivet's other whiskies tempered those hopes.

Many thanks to Florin for a sample of this whisky.

Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year
©The Glenlivet

Nose: malty, a touch of vanilla frosting, caramel, grass, mild oak/fresh wood, toasty, noticeable alcohol, apples/pears/berries, soap or bubblegum, corn. After adding a few drops of water, it becomes greener and grainier, the fruit slips underneath, there's more vanilla, the oak becomes more integrated, and some citrus and floral notes pop out.

Taste: rather hot - alcohol seems rather rubbery, very sweet and malty throughout, apples up front, mildly bitter oak, lightly peppery. After dilution, it becomes thicker and a bit less hot, more grainy, malt and oak integrate, vanilla peeks out from the cracks, there are citrus notes mid-palate, and some chocolate comes out at the back.

Finish: malty, mildly bitter oak, sucrose, grassy

I was honestly pretty disappointed by this whisky. I had previously tried a dram at the Highland Stillhouse and had a similarly dim impression, but wanted to give it another chance. Despite a minimum of 16 years in casks, it tastes rather young and hot, without a lot of depth or development. All the classic elements of Glenlivet - sweet malt, apples, grass, and vanilla - are present and it is more interesting than their core range, but it felt betrayed by lousy casks. While Glenlivet claims that all of the spirit was matured in first-fill casks, it tastes more like tired third- or fourth-fill casks. There is just isn't a lot of impact on the spirit despite resting in oak for the better part of two decades. It's begging for heftier doses of caramel and vanilla to lend the spirit some weight.

As is, it's not a terrible pick if you need a starter cask strength whisky - the relatively simple flavors will be easier to pick out compared to something with more complexity - but it's not going to find a place in my liquor cabinet.


  1. Jordan, if I remember well this sample is from batch 0112R (bottled 01/2012 as the code indicates), sent to you in Fall 2012. I didn't like it either - here are my comments:

    I just don't get this whisky. It's very hot, and it doesn't calm down with water added. The nose is closed, with some sharp sour notes in there, and occasionally some butter. None of the elegance, floral character, and smoothness of the standard bottling 12yo or 18yo are there. I'm at a loss, in more ways than one. 2.5*

    However, this was rescued by blending it with Laphroaig CS, as described here.

    Later on I had a bottle of batch 0410J (bottled 04/2010) which was incomparably better:
    Very full & spicy nose, at the opposite end of the spectrum of my earlier Nadurra! Good body, though it needed the high proof! Lots of oranges, apricot pit, and other fruit spices. Towards the end of the bottle it tasted a bit like a rye whisky! 3.5*

    Seemingly as with all things Glenlivet, the quality went down considerably in the last two-three years.

    1. I've heard similar complaints about a decrease in quality, which is also what has kept me from buying a bottle. Maybe I'll take a chance if I can find an older one, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

    2. Yes, Mix Master Florin salvaged this bottle via The GlenPhroaig. I wasn't crazy about a 2013 Nadurra I had a bar a couple months ago. The one I did like (and reviewed a million years ago) was from 2010.

      The hell is going on with Glenlivet?

  2. I've just opened a batch 01/13 bottle which tasted fine to me though I recall 0410J was a little more vibrant (I see Florin also had a bottle). However I've got to say the best version of Nadurra I've had was the Triumph edition (still got two unopened bottles somewhere).

  3. Just typed up a review of an older batch that is as good as I remember it being (1109I). The review will appear next month. I do have a bottle of the 0112R in reserve as well, along with one of the 0911P, but no idea when these will ever be opened.

    1. Come on Mao, you know you want to open the 0112R and do a comparative review! As a stimulant, can I entice you with a sample of the 0410J? The offer is valid for you too, Jordan!