The Glenlivet Nadurra

July 9, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | Filed under Grade: A regular, Scotch.

57% ABV

The typical liquor “cabinets” of people of various ages:

*An 18-year-old’s consists of a bottle of cheap Schnapps stolen from a relative and now hiding under their childhood twin bed next to the wanking lube.

*A 21-year-old male’s consists of a handle of clear Bacardi proudly displayed atop the TV and replenished every three days or so. For women, the cabinet consists of a bottle of Malibu rum stashed on the fridge. Both sexes might also have an old bottle of Jager left over from a long-ago party, the cap syrupily sealed on due to lack of use.

*A 25-year-old’s consists of a large bottle of “Goose,” perhaps a flavored vodka from the dreadful Absolut or Skyy, a bottle of rarely-touched Cuervo, and a bottle of “nice stuff,” either received as a gift or won at an office Christmas party. Think Johnny Walker Black or Knob Creek. This all is stored proudly on an available window sill or book case in the living room.

Now, we’re to my age, twenty-nine. Most of my peers’ liquor cabinets consist of a few mediocre bottles of wine stored in a wire or wood rack received as an engagement gift, as well as a bottle of extremely sweet gin (think Bombay Sapphire), maybe some more “exotic” vodka than Grey Goose, and one or two bottles of legitimately good liquor bought duty free upon return from the honeymoon (but not paid more than $75 for and never drank).

And, what age would you guess the owner of the behemoth and pricey wood and glass heirloom armoire in the dining area which houses these contents just to name a few:

*Johnny Walker Blue Label

*Macallan 15 Year

*Dalwhinnie 15 Year

55-Years-Old? Sixty? Maybe even seventy? Nope, it’s the collection of my 28-year-old friend Kevin, a dude seemingly genetically born with a passion for golf, country clubs, boating, cigars, and fine Scotch. You know, rich white folk shit. That’s cool with me, though, because despite being a middle-class vulgarian, I enjoy all those vices as well.

Especially Scotch, which though I love, I rarely drink. This is for two reasons. Firstly, Scotch is fucking expensive. I can’t afford to be the guy getting loaded on a dozen glasses of Glenfiddich 12 during happy hour.

But, secondly, when it comes to whiskey drinkin’, call me a rube, but I kinda prefer bourbon. Besides being significantly cheaper, a good-quality bourbon–like a Booker’s, a Baker’s, Blanton’s, The OGD–I find to be far more complex than single malt. Bourbon explodes on the tongue with a huge variety of flavors: heat, smoke, vanillas, sugars, oak, fruits, barley, and of course corn. While Scotch just seems smoky, boring, and bland. I still drink Scotch and love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll almost always grab a good bourbon instead.

However, I saw something most interesting in Kevin’s liquor cabinet: The Glenlivet Nadurra. A non-chill filtered single malt aged in American oak bourbon casks.

Yes, you read that correctly, AGED IN BOURBON CASKS.

Wow. This was some booze I could get behind. Support. It had potentially the best of both worlds packed into it.

Kevin warned me, “I know you drink whiskey straight, but even the Glenlivet distiller recommends diluting it with water.” Pshaw. I poured myself a half-finger and took a deep whiff. Instantly, tears came to my eyes like I had been maced. I added another finger of Scotch along with a couple sink drops of water. I took a sip and again tears came to my eyes, but this time I was crying because I couldn’t believe how fucking brilliant this Scotch is.

Extraordinarily potent. Disregard the 57% ABV, this one feels like 130 proof or more. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had a liquor with this much bite aside from Everclear or 151. And, while those are tasteless swill used to get girls that won’t put out loaded, this is one of the best liquors I’ve ever had.

What a unique taste! If I hadn’t have known the answer already, I would have struggled to label this as either bourbon or Scotch. It has many hints of both. In fact, I’d be very curious to attempt a Manhattan (Rob Roy?) out of this. That would surely be blasphemy though. This needs to be enjoyed as pure as you can.

I’ve never though Glenlivet was that special in the past but this is world-class. Glenlivet claims that “short of becoming Master Distiller, Nadurra is the closest you can come to drinking straight from a cask.” Well, luckily I do plan on becoming Master Distiller so don’t you taunt me on the bottles, Glenlivet.

Highly recommended.

A


5 Responses to “The Glenlivet Nadurra”

  1. Ian says:

    I cannot agree more. I am the 50 something year old with a few “good’ bottles in the rack, and yes, I have the 25 year olds stuff (my kids) along so she and her friends know enough to keep clear of my whisky. Last year we vacationed in England and Scotland. Learned quite a bit about fine whisky that “fortnight”. Darn, things are expensive over there with the exchange rate being so aweful, but it was a trip to see a friend living on the Shetland Islands, just north of mainland Scotland. In Edinburgh itself we took the “Whisky Tour” and had a nice time at the end with a number of samples. Then we went to their gift shop which had a working bar plus a very large assortment of good whiskys for sale. Some were so dear that I bought the little airplane bottle, just to get a taste at home. I remember paying $28 for a single shot bottle, but it was a treat to remember.
    All this not withstanding, a close friend and his wife came by last evening for coffee. After coffee, we went into our family room, sat on the reclining sofas and chatted for a bit. It was that time I asked my friend Joseph if he carded for a nice whisky and took out the Nadurra I had, that was about 3/4’s full. After our 1st pour his wife requested a taste (as my wife does not enjoy anything rougher then Chambord liqueur) and she finished the night with a total of three “shots”. Joe and I did something we have not done in 2 years, finishing the bottle and thinking about starting on my last bottle of Johnnie Walker Green. The Nadurra is 114 proof and I needed to help my friend out to his car and give the keys to his wife, I might add.
    Nadurra is an excellent sipping whisky, but I disagree with the thought of adding water to it in any for, including an ice cube.
    The 1st shot might be just a bit tough for a subtle palate, but all the rest were smooth as glass and different flavors remain on the tongue and in the nose for a very pleasant experience. I highly recommend it if you like scotch whisky, or whiskey as we make in America, but the Scots have us beat on single malts.

  2. Craig Bryant says:

    Found your blog after my wife brought home a bottle of Nadurra from London. I was very impressed with it–all the more so, since I’ve always thought of Glenlivet as a pretty middle of the road single malt: not bad by any stretch, but nothing to rave about. Maybe it’s leaving it unfiltered; gives it a more toothsome quality.

    One point, though, that’s worth making–it’s really nothing special that they use bourbon casks. MOST Scotch is aged in bourbon casks, because by law you can only use a bourbon cask one time, but Scotch and Irish distillers can use them over and over agin. So they build the casks in Kentucky and Tennessee, use ‘em once, and then ship them to our cousins across the sea by the boatload.

    I agree that the Nadurra is probably no good as a sippin’ whisky, but I rarely want to drink more than an ounce of a really good Scotch–once your palate absorbs and adjusts to the flavor and aroma, you’re just giving yourself an expensive headache.

    Bourbon still doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but this is changing in recent years. My house brand these days is Elijah Craig, which is very, very good and shockingly inexpensive. I’m enjoying as much of it as I can before the word gets out.

    Cheers!

  3. Thanks for the nice comments, Craig. I too thought Glenlivet was just average before I tried the brilliant Nadurra.

    I have learned that point about bourbon casks since having written this piece and feel dopey about not having known it previously. As I’ve mentioned, I’m more of a bourbon guy than a Scotch guy too. Elijah Craig is indeed good but my house favorites still remain Booker’s and Baker’s, depending on how much heat I feel like!

  4. Allen Stevens says:

    I’ve never gotten into The Glenlivet 12- or 15-year. The 12 is too bland, and the 15 spends the last three years of its maturation in virgin French white oak, which makes it a little too spicy for me. I’ve always loved the 18 and 21 expressions, though; there’s just so much more complexity in them, and each one unfolds nicely.

    The Nadurra was a revelation, however. I too used to scoff at the thought of watering my whisky, but having met both Jim Cryle from The Glenlivet as well as master blender Colin Scott from Chivas Regal (whose 18-year is marvelous and 25 year is proof that there is a god who loves us very much) I’ve learned different. They both drink the fruits of their labor with at least a little bit, maybe just a drop or two, because of what it does to the flavour. Mature Scotch Whiskies are incredibly complex creatures, and you really do them an injustice by not experiencing everything there is to find in the dizzying matrix of tastes. The Nadurra especially – I attended a tasting recently, and the brand ambassador (who reminded me rather a lot of Mel Gibson’s crazy cop in Lethal Weapon, only in kilt and sporran) had us taste it both ways. The act of chilling the fatty acids with ice (which the chill filtering of every other malt removes) then warming them up again against ones palate… it’s indescribable. You need to try it. It may well be that when one reaches a certain age his tastebuds have become numbed to complexity and require an undiluted alcohol punch to wake them, but while you’re still in command of undulled senses, try Nadurra with a cube or two.

    I’m just sayin.

  5. Allen, thanks for the nice comment and for the TONS of useful information. Much appreciated!

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