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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso Whisky Review!

It's been quite a while since I last tasted a Glenlivet, in fact I can't recall tasting one since the old Nadurra 16 Year Old was discontinued a couple of years ago. It was replaced by the non-age statement (NAS) "First Fill",  which was then joined by a peated cask finish, and this one: Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso.

As you can guess from the name, this expression is matured in Oloroso sherry casks. Although it's a non-age statement bottling it still follows the Nadurra (Gaelic for "natural") recipe as it is now: being non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength. Rather confusingly there are also duty free / travel retail exclusive Nadurra bottlings which are watered down to 48%, and usually sold in a 1-litre bottle. So I guess they're slightly less Nadurra than the regular Nadurra! I also note that there's no mention of natural colour on any of the packaging, which is a shame, but those Oloroso sherry casks are all first-fill (they haven't been previously used for whisky maturation), and with that in mind it is quite light in colour, so I don't imagine there's any e150a caramel shenanigans going on. The Nadurra range is also bottled in batches, so there'd be no need to add colouring for consistency purposes.

Glenlivet Distillery didn't make it to my list of visits on my pilgrimage to Scotland, largely due to timing constraints, and the fact that it's located a little off the beaten track in Speyside. I didn't venture any further south than Glenfarclas, and Glenlivet is around another 15 minutes drive further south. The distillery is actually named "The Glenlivet", with the "The" being added in the late 19th century after a number of other Speyside distilleries were using "Glenlivet" as an add-on to their distillery name, ostensibly to indicate that they were a Speyside distillery. The distillery is a huge one of course, being one of the biggest Scotch brands, and it produces just shy of 11 million litres of spirit per year from their 14 stills, which puts them amongst the largest malt whisky distilleries in the world in terms of production capacity. They're currently owned by Chivas Brothers, which is turn owned by Pernod Ricard, who have a significant Scotch whisky distillery portfolio, although the majority of them are not widely known as single malts.

I imagine the idea with this Nadurra expression is to take on the "sherry monster" market that is currently dominated by Aberlour A'Bunadh, Glenfarclas 105 and Glendronach Cask Strength, all of which are young, non-age statement cask strength whiskies that are fully matured in sherry casks. In fact I believe this is the only regular Glenlivet expression that is fully matured in sherry casks, the rest of the range are either finished in sherry or are a marriage of different cask types. Nadurra Oloroso is competitively priced against those competing sherry monsters too, actually coming in a little cheaper than most at $99-110 in Australia. This particular bottling that I'm reviewing is from batch OL0816, which as you can guess was bottled in August of 2016, and came in at a strength of 61.3%. So let's get to it and see how it lines up...

Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso, NAS, 61.3%. Speyside, Scotland.
Matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. Batch OL0816. Non-chill filtered, cask strength, assumed natural colour.

Colour: Amber.

Nose: Nutty, rich & clean sherry, very much Oloroso. A bit of an alcoholic nip too, but it is young whisky bottled at 61.3% after all. Dried fruit, date syrup, some sweet oak and sandalwood. A little leathery furniture polish, and some red & green apples in the background.

Texture: Hot & spicy, slightly oily, light-medium weight.

Taste: Hot & slightly harsh on entry, but only slightly. More fresh, nutty, dry sherry, more sweet toasted oak, and some slightly creamy vanilla behind. Over-stewed fruit, stone fruit, red apples and a few raisins.

Finish: Short length, still a little hot and feisty, more dry here too. More of Glenlivet's (and Speyside's) trademark apples and light malt coming through. Plenty of dry wood spices here too, more sandalwood and a little cinnamon. Light toffee apples and dark chocolate towards the end.

Score: 2.5 out of 5.

Notes: An enjoyable dram that certainly packs a punch. It could probably use a drop or two of water, but that's not how I roll with these reviews. The heat doesn't ruin the experience though, it's a nice light spirit-y nip that isn't overly unpleasant. And again, it's young whisky at 61.3%! That said, it may be a bit too much for those that are used to having their drams at 40-43%. There's still plenty of actual spirit character present in this Glenlivet too, with those apples and lightly oily malt notes showing themselves, so the sherry casks haven't been allowed to overwhelm the spirit as is sometimes the case with these sherry bomb whiskies.

Unfortunately though whenever I try a new sherry cask-matured un-peated dram I can't help but compare it with my beloved Glendronach. And in this case there's hardly any comparison, although I must admit that the equivalent Glendronach is significantly more expensive. I'd probably put this one on par with Glenfarclas 105 in my book, and that one has a pretty serious following out there in the whisky world, so take that into account. Actually, I'd rank this one just ahead of the 105. Still, it never hurts to try something different, and at the asking price the Nadurra would sit comfortably on my shelves.