The Glenlivet Nadurra

Glenlivet, the kind of whisky you get on an airplane if you ask for scotch, isn’t generally thought of as a connoisseur’s whisky. Like the Budweiser of single-malt, its standard 12-year expression is mild, watery, and (above all) cheap. That’s not to say it’s all bad – I like keeping a bottle of it around for nights when I don’t feel like an expensive or complicated dram. I particularly enjoy the house characteristic green apple note.

The Glenlivet Nadurra, now, is more my speed. Not colored or chill-filtered and bottled at cask strength, the Nadurra supplies what the standard expressions are missing: concentrated flavor. It’s been aged at least 16 years in only ex-bourbon (American oak) barrels. My admittedly blurry notes from WhiskyFest 2011 include this phrase about the Nadurra: “Very nice. Worth buying.” — what more can I say?

Bottled 09/11 (Batch 0911p) at 53% ABV.

Nose: LOTS of vanilla. Am I allowed to say “Vanilla Bomb”? Perfumey. Some light, but non-cloying touches of butterscotch. White peach and buttered toast. A satisfying, concentrated aroma.

Palate: Significant burn for the relatively low ABV. Raspberry comes through as the burn subsides, as does candied ginger and some of that vanilla. Surprisingly little evidence of the house-characteristic green apple, which may be buried under all of that bourbon-cask influence. Progresses towards nutty, with marzipan and some coconut.

Finish: There’s the coconut. Medium-long finish and finally some sweet maltiness.

Overall: If you’re looking for a good solid Speysider without heavy-handed wine finishes or sherry aging, this one fits the bill, and isn’t overpriced. Also, if you’d like a gentle introduction to cask-strength whiskies, this one is a lot easier to handle for a first-timer than something like Aberlour A’Bunadh or a cask-strength from Islay.

The Glenlivet Nadurra
53% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $55-$60
Acquired: (1/4 oz tasting sample) K&L Wines and Spirits, Redwood City, CA

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  • The standard 12yo isn’t bad indeed. It’s fine, and fine is sometimes just what you want. Uncomplicated.

    This review makes me curious about the Glenlivet Nadurra. Even more because it isn’t artificial coloured and not chill filtered.

    Over here (The Netherlands, Europe) it costs twice as much as the standard 12 yo.



  • “I like keeping a bottle of it around for nights when I don’t feel like an expensive or complicated dram. I particularly enjoy the house characteristic green apple note.”

    Reading your blog regularly as I do (and enjoying it thoroughly) I am stuck my the quote above. This is not the sentiment of a scotch newbie. This can only come from a tasting veteran. You are no longer a NOOB! You are now, at the very least, a scotch journeyman!!!

    BTW, for what its worth, I’ve been drinking scotch for 25 years and I still come back to The Glenlivet 12 YO on occasion. For all it may lack in complexity on the palate and finish, the nose is still spectacular.

  • “Overall: If you’re looking for a good solid Speysider without heavy-handed wine finishes or sherry aging, this one fits the bill, and isn’t overpriced.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Its economy isn’t obvious until you have tried it, and realized that a wee dram will last a fair bit of the evening. A small sip explodes; an even smaller sip fills the mouth and lingers for a minute or so with a nice malty finish. After this one, I won’t be heading for the 18 & 20 yr olds any more.

  • Had this last night, and I found adding a little water reduced the burn but didn’t really compromise the flavor. Very nice stuff, thinking of getting it. It’s at my local Costco for $50.

  • Just got a bottle on sale for $45 at Festival Foods in Wisconsin. Not sure which batch butlabled at 54.9% abv. I must say….fantastic! Was able to easily nose the vanilla, but it seemed complemented by an entire bakery of goodies, including sugar cookies. My wife and i really enjoyed this dram, and will continue to purchase if we can find the good sale price. I love after Christmas sales.

  • I think I’m the only person on the Internet who not didn’t like this, but strongly disliked it. I really expected to love it, as my bottle of Aberlour A’bunadh is my absolute favorite. At the very least I didn’t expect two cask strength Speysiders to end up at opposite ends of my enjoyment spectrum. I ended up with one bottled at 54.3%.

    When I taste it, I get that nice little Glenlivet green apple note you always get, but it all goes downhill from there (I actually get some pear flavor too). Once I was mowing the lawn, I accidentally ran over a small piece of wood. This kicked a bunch of wood dust and shredded weeds into my face, some of which somehow got onto my tongue. Undiluted, the Nadurra gave me the exact same awful flavor. When I added water, I got this bizarre starchy note of a birthday cake to which the baker forgot to add any sugar or sweetener at all. And because of its strength, these flavors really lingered on my palate until I washed them off. Normally I love a long finish, but I couldn’t wait to lose this aftertaste.

    Of all the single malts I own, this is the only one that is actively unpleasant to drink. The universal praise this whisky has received makes me wonder whether my taste is just idiosyncratic on this, or if I just had bad luck with the bottle I purchased. In any case, I would be very gun-shy about ever buying this again.

    • Eric,

      Wow! I’m sorry to hear you had such an unpleasant experience. Of course, as taste is so subjective it’s impossible to say if you had a bad bottle or if it just triggered some personal taste memory or rare taste receptor in you. Pity! You could try writing the company for a replacement, although I’m not sure they’d be able to do so overseas. You could also shop the bottle around to some friends and see if they experience similar unpleasantness.

      • I’m going to have friends who come by drink the thing and tell me if they like it better; that might explain if it’s just my palate. I think this could just be a variation of “you win some, you lose some.” This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve disliked something everyone else likes (mashed potatoes come to mind). Thanks for the reply!

  • You don’t like mashed potatoes!!! There is something wrong with you! Please send me your bottle of Glenlivet Nadurra, as it should not be in your possession, seeing you have taste bud illness problems.

  • I cant say anything bad about this bottle. I got it as a gift and who doesnt love scotch as a gift. The thing i love about the palate. Is that its so silky and smooth with a nice strong cast strength finish. Although i dont recommend diluting it. The small key notes in this cant be tasted if that. Maybe not neat but a big piece of ice.

  • one must understand the nuances of chill & non-chill filter to understand Nadurra ! it is best in its class…… try it NEAT – chilled after keeping it in a small glass in fridge for about 20+ minutes…. u will love it !

  • I just picked this up in Mt.Shasta and I can’t wait to get home and try it, I was torn between glenfiddich 15 year and this my scotch mentor recomended both so I flipped a coin.

  • Was given some Nadurra as a gift. first exposure was disappointing. Taste actually was rough
    In full strength. After some water about 25%, it became tolerable. Palate might be unprepared for ataste experience. Noted the bottle notes indicate first fill into oak casks, seems to indicate clean fresh barrels unused, so no residual influence on taste. I am of course willing to give it another go and hope my palate has positively adjusted.

    • Hi Bob,
      Nadurra is indeed cask strength, which is more powerful (translate: rough) than the more usual 40% or 43% alcohol by volume (ABV). Watering it down is the right approach, but make sure you add the best water you can (filtered or bottled), since chlorine or other “off” flavors in tap water can translate to off flavors in the whisky. It also helps to let the whisky set and settle for 5 minutes or more after adding water. The whisky was aged in “first fill” bourbon oak casks, which means barrels that previously held bourbon, but which haven’t yet been used to age scotch. This type of barrel imparts more oak “extractives” or flavor compounds that are absorbed by the whisky as it ages (compared to oak casks that have previously held one or more batches of scotch, which impart less flavor the more they’re used). All barrels are “clean” in terms of contaminants that might ruin the whisky.

      • Good advice. thank you. I hate to give up on a gift horse. I always use tap water and it can carry chlorine effects. Will do as you recommend and give it another go.

  • Well first let me say I must have dead taste buds as I never taste all the things y’all taste. I rather like it or not. This Skotch I really enjoy, ON THE ROCKS. My local dealer hit the nail on the head , drink what you enjoy. That’s what it’s all about!!!

    • Shame on you for putting ice in your Scotch. Why, the effect ice has on the flavor profile of a CS dram is the equivalent of what your nads do when jumping into arctic waters. (I know but what would you call them!?).

      If you have to use water, use cool still water like the poster said. Filtered. What are you, Canadian? 🙂

      • Hi Ricker,
        While I appreciate the enthusiasm, we do try to maintain a bit of tolerance around these comments. I like to say (and have said often) that you can drink your whisky any way that suits you – as long as you’ve TRIED the recommended approaches. If Bruce has tried his Nadurra with only water and still prefers it on ice, who are we to tell him what to do with his own whisky? Unless you’re mixing Pappy with coke, then I might have to kill you. Cheers!

  • […] Preparations are underway for the next #ScotchInTheBurg event at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 22, 2014 at the Abbey Bar. Enter Appalachian Brewing Company on Cameron Street, Harrisburg, and take the stairs or elevator to the second floor. The lineup for the evening: – Macallan 12 – Glenlivet 12 – Johnnie Walker Black – Glenlivet Nadura 16 […]

  • I, too, enjoy having a simple bottle of the 12 Year around. Have been on the road for the past 3 weeks, and have a bottle to have a pour of when I’m feeling like having a nightcap. I ran into the Nadurra today, but wanted to make sure my due diligence is complete before buying. I believe, if I saw correctly, it is priced significantly lower where I am at than back home. Upon reading quite a few reviews, stumbled upon this one, and has piqued my interest. Looks like I’m buying a bottle prior to leaving town on Tuesday. Cheers!

    • Recently opened this bottle, and was very pleasantly surprised. While the 18 Year has a smoother finish, I am a lover of vanilla, and this does not disappoint. Couple that with the massive oak, and a slight enjoyable burn (yes, that’s possible), with hints of sweetness throughout, and a long finish that leaves you trying to figure out what else you’re tasting, and it makes for one hell of a pour!

  • This has become one of my “go to” Scotch Whiskys when I want a good cigar. For me, I’ve noticed it is best neat with a medium to bold cigar and a piece of ice with a mild cigar.

  • I have been enjoying the Glen for over 50 years. This is my first dram of the Nad with a splash of natural well water and a cube! Fantastic. Northern Wisconsin will have an introduction!

  • I have tasted the other Nadurra, the new young one with no age.59.81% alcohol, aged in fresh white oak casks. It was fantastic. Clean whisky with hothing added. Only oak. I added probably ca 15 % water (from a well in the hills).

  • I believe this Nadurra is being replaced in favor of the NAS versions, but I managed to pick up a bottle of the 16 year old recently. This is good stuff. I like high ABV spirits generally, and especially if I don’t have to tame them with water or ice. This would probably be too hot at Aberlour A’bunadh strength, but at around 55% it’s just right. It’s definitely a bit oaky, but I like my bourbon with a little wood flavor too, so this works for me. My only complaint is that this is priced around $80 these days…still not as pricey as Aberlour A’bunadh, but getting expensive nonetheless.