Today’s review is of another well-priced cask strength whisky, The Glenlivet Nàdurra 16 year old. This is the only cask strength whisky in The Glenlivet standard range, released in small batches on an annual basis. The specific batch reviewed here is Batch 0113V, bottled in January 2013, and weighing in at 113.8 proof (56.9% abv). Every batch of The Glenlivet Nàdurra (meaning “natural” in Gaelic) is aged exclusively in first-fill American oak casks, giving the whisky a lot of cask influence.
Over time, a barrel begins to lose its effectiveness as an aging vessel for whisky. As a general rule, the more spirit a barrel holds, the less effective it is at aging spirit. Therefore, for the most pronounced flavor profile with respect to the cask, first-fill casks are the most effective. Many whisky companies reserve first-fill casks for their premium expressions, such as The Glenlivet does with the Nàdurra 16 year. However, the opposite can also be true. If a distillery would like to bottle an expression that showcases the raw spirit more than the cask, refill casks provide much of the same aging quality without influencing the flavor profile as much. Talisker Storm is a good example of an expression that uses refill casks to allow the smokiness of the spirit to come through more.
In the glass, this whisky is a beautiful straw gold color. On the nose, this is classic Glenlivet. Golden delicious apples, vanilla, honeysuckle, and malted barley are all evident in the nose, although it is a slightly subdued nose (even with water added). The palate is where this whisky really starts to shine, bringing a creamy mouthfeel and notes of green apples, honeysuckle, crème brulee, and vanilla. As a whole, the palate is over-arched by the classic floral notes of Glenlivet whiskies. The finish is medium to long, with drying floral, oaky, and perfumed notes, with twinges of vanilla and honey sweetness that have become more pronounced as I have gone through the bottle. With water, the nose opens up a bit, and the palate sweetens a bit, but I really like this best at its full strength.
Overall, this is a very good expression of The Glenlivet, perhaps the truest expression of the distillery’s profile. If you like The Glenlivet 12 year and you are looking to treat yourself, spend a few extra bucks and grab this whisky, you will not be disappointed. This is a wonderfully warming whisky, with the straightforward simplicity of The Glenlivet’s range, coupled with the creaminess and body of a cask strength whisky. My grade: B+. Price: $60-70/750ml. This is one of the best deals for a cask strength whisky, and one of the best introductions to cask strength presentations on the market today. If you have been wondering what the cask strength craze is about, this is a great place to start letting it ride!