Thursday, May 15, 2014

New release - Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso

The Nàdurra Oloroso is the latest new release from the famous Glenlivet distillery.  The release follows plans that were recently announced to create a range of their popular and award-winning Nàdurra. The series will highlight the different types of casks used at the distillery. This new whisky has been solely matured in first fill ex-sherry casks and will join the original Nàdurra, which is matured solely in ex-bourbon casks.  Other expressions will be released at later dates. Nàdurra means 'natural' in Gaelic.

The Glenlivet distillery is located in the Speyside region, close to the town of Ballindalloch in the scenic Livet Glen from which it takes its name. The Glenlivet was founded in 1824 by George Smith, whose signature still appears on the labels and packaging.  It was the first distillery in the Speyside region to be granted a distilling license under the Parliamentary Excise Act, which was brought in one year earlier.  Glenlivet is now one of Scotland's largest distilleries with an annual production of 10 million litres and is currently owned by Pernod Ricard, who took control in 2001.

The influence of Pernod Ricard has seen Glenlivet become one of the best selling single malts in the world - it is second for overall world sales (behind Glenfiddich) with over six million bottles sold each year. It is third in the UK (behind Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie) and is the best selling single malt in the USA, where it has been number one since the 1970s.

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso is the first major release from the distillery, excluding single casks bottlings, to be solely matured in ex-sherry casks. It is initially exclusive to European travel retail and will be launched in Frankfurt and Heathrow Terminal 5 during May, before being rolled out to domestic markets later in 2014. The whisky has no age stated and is bottled at 48% ABV. The recommended retail price is €55/£46.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose has a lovely mix of initial aromas - think of raisins, caramelised nuts and a good pinch of cinnamon.  Underneath are further notes adding depth.  These include earthy malted barley, vanilla, dessicated coconut, candied orange peel/marmalade and a hint of dried peach.

On the palate, this initially feels a little hot and dry but quickly settles down and softens.  There is a distinct early muscovado/brown sugar note and this is complimented by juicy dark raisins, caramelised/toasted nuts and bitter orange.  This citrus element is definitely more reminiscent of candied peel than on the nose.  With time a delicious burnt caramel characteristic develops and this is enhanced by increasing wood spices, especially cinnamon and allspice.  Hints of cocoa and ginger add further warmth and complexity.  With the addition of a few drops of water the raisin, orange and caramel notes are pushed even further to the fore, knocking back the nuttiness and woody spices.

The finish is long and increasingly dry.  The initial sugary and dried fruit fade a little quickly, leaving the earthy barley and punchy wood spices.  These add to the dryness, especially a distinct cinnamon-like note.  A late hint of dried peach offers a pleasant surprise.

What's the verdict?
The 'original' ex-bourbon cask version of Nàdurra has long been one of the most enjoyed in our whisky cupboard and our favourite expression of Glenlivet also.  This is a departure from that light, zesty and vanilla driven whisky and presents something much darker, feistier and more brooding.

The Nàdurra Oloroso has grown on us since we first sampled it and continues to do so.  It may never reach the heady heights of 'favourite' status that the original Nàdurra has in our world, but it is well worth a try.  It will be interesting to see what Glenlivet do with the rest of the Nàdurra range and what casks types will be on offer.

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