A year and a half ago I reviewed another batch of Glenlivet’s Nadurra (1109I) and there was some discussion in the comments about batch variation. In fact, in that review I’d linked to Jordan D.’s review of sample from this very bottle, which he did not like at all. And the source of that sample, Florin (a notorious Albanian diva), also chimed in the comments on both Jordan’s review and mine to note that he too thought it was very poor. Well, even though I am by nature suspicious of narratives of decline, this didn’t make me very excited about the prospect of opening this bottle.
But open it I eventually did—for one of my local group’s tastings. And none of us thought it was objectionable in the slightest; indeed, one person had it as their top whisky on the night. I didn’t give it a particularly strong score on the night, but I did think it was hot (it had been opened for the tasting) and needed to breathe a little longer in the open bottle. As it happens, I thought the couple of tastes I’ve had of it since were much better. The bottle is now in the last third and destined to be finished quickly and so it’s finally time for formal notes.
Glenlivet 16 “Nadurra” (53.5%; Batch 0112R; from my own bottle)
Nose: Oh yes, it’s softened a lot in the bottle. A lot of honey, some apple and lots of buttery oak and vanilla. After a minute there’s some sweet notes of apricot and orange. With a little more time the oak is a little more prominent and a little more dusty. After another minute the dusty note disappears and there’s a touch of wood spice now (rye). With a lot of time the citrus expands. Oddly, water seems to make the nose go a bit blank; after a bit the fruit begins to reappear and it’s muskier now but still much fainter than before.
Palate: All the stuff from the nose is here but it’s “darker” and more oaky on the palate; not in a bad way: the oak just provides more of a bracing counterpoint to the sweeter notes (and it’s more of a brown sugar sweetness now—less of the apple). Spicier with time but, as on the nose, there’s more orange too now (and it’s more intense/concentrated here). With water, spicier still but less woody and the bitter orange is still there.
Finish: Long. Gets spicier as it goes. Water emphasizes the fruit over the spice.
Comments: Very close to the 1109I on the nose but more wood-influenced on the palate. Hard to pick between them. And so I can’t agree with Jordan or Florin’s reviews; and there doesn’t seem to be a drop-off from my 2009 bottle to my 2012 bottle, just slightly different points of emphasis in the two batches: brighter there, spicier here. On the whole, I like the brighter style slightly better.
Rating: 86 points.