Glenmorangie Nectar D’or 12 Year Old is finished in Sauternes wine casks, which is pretty cool, if you ask me. This wine comes from the sauternais sub-region in France that is located in the Graves section of Bordeaux . No, vineyards were not planted atop human remains there.
Or were they? Well, if a correct translation of “grave” is any indication, then the answer is an emphatic non-non. In French, it means “soil with a concentration of gravel.”
When harvested, sauturnes grapes are spread out in the sun to let some of the juices inside the skins evaporate, thus concentrating what is left (as the sun takes them part way towards becoming raisins). This process results in a white desert wine that is quite sweet, indeed.
Casks used in the production of white desert wine are loaded with sugars, and these naturally find their way into Nectar D’or whisky. Actually, it’s worth pointing out that the wash is aged in ex-bourbon casks for a decade, and then finished for two years in the aforementioned desert wine casks.
All of these facts add up to great news for connoisseurs who like their whisky sweet and fairly complex. It’s worth pointing out that Nectar D’or means “golden nectar,” as “Or” is the Scottish Gaelic word for “gold.” Along with sweet flavors from the wood, there comes a nice deep golden color– hence the appellation that calls attention to the color of this whisky.
Before we move on to the tasting notes, I might as well mention that Glenmorangie was one of the first distilleries to legitimize the practice of finishing its whiskies in wine casks. Yes, I know that I’m starting to date myself, but I actually do remember a time (a few decades ago) when finishing whiskies in wine casks was generally thought of as “iffy” and controversial.
Today, finishing is done quite a lot by some very reputable distilleries. I think that Glenmorangie deserves credit for showing the world how it was done– not only in terms of creating some award-winning single malt Scotch whiskies– but also in demonstrating how the practice of finishing batches in wine and port casks could be profitable. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the same parent corporation owns Glenmorangie distillery, in addition to the vineyard in France that makes Sauternes wine, and, by extension, owns the casks used to make Nectar D’or.
Tasting Notes: Glenmorangie Nectar D’or 12 Year Old
Color: Deep gold in the bottle; a bit lighter “old” gold in the glass.
Nose: Floral notes combine with vanilla and honey to offer a very rewarding olfactory experience. Pinot Gris surfaces, along with white grape skins, almonds, and rose water. A citrus note seems to be floating in there, as well, although it is fairly subtle on the nose.
Palate: On the tongue, lime and orange zest greet the palate. Ex-bourbon casks add a bit of pepper to the sweeter floral nature of the nose. Now, I’m getting apple blossom–so, yes, I can isolate the type of floral influence, as well as the type of citrus influences on the palate. Cinnamon dances around a pool of vanilla and golden raisins. Alcohol in the mouth feel is a little on the hot side for 46%, but this heat compliments a touch of peppery spiciness from the oak.
All told, the interplay of sweet and spice adds welcome complexity for a twelve year-old offering. The finish is medium in length, and its death brings honey suckle and vanilla, rather than wood spice. In terms of texture, the viscosity is not thin, but neither is it “chewy” from oak tannins.
Rather, I should say the whisky is somewhat oily in the way it interacts with the tissues of the mouth, particularly after resting in one’s glass for a spell. Put another way, it’s mouth-coating without being chewy. Few experts would argue against the fact that a higher ABV, together with more time in the casks, would move this whisky in a fascinating direction. However, given its price-point, we can be appreciative of the role Nectar D’or plays in Glenmorangie’s twelve year core offerings.
Glenmorangie Nectar D’or comes in a rather handsome box–complete with hinges, clasps, and golden lettering embossed on a matte finish. You can’t go wrong if you bring it to a wedding, an old-fashioned wake, or if you present it as a gift–either to somebody else, or to yourself.
My only complaint about the nectar in my glass is the fact that it replaced Glenmorangie’s Madeira wood finish. I do love the influence of fortified Portugese wine casks on a good whisky, and so I’ve missed the Madeira wood. This said, today’s Sauternes finish is admittedly more viscous, which creates a nice, oily mouth feel.
Last time I checked, the discontinued green label Madeira was fetching upwards of two hundred pounds at auction. That’s too too rich for my blood, but it would be fun to do a side-by-side comparison between the two whiskies at some point. If a Madeira wood happens to surface at a friend’s house during a whisky tasting in the future, then I most likely drive to the nearest liquor store on a quest to bring back Nectar D’or Sauternes finish for the piece de resistance of the event.
FINAL SCORE: 87/100
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Kirk discovered the brilliance of Scottish whisky in 1987 while vacationing in Edinburgh. Over the course of three and a half decades that followed, he's built upon a knowledge of distilleries and the industry, as well as world whisky. Kirk prides himself on speaking honestly while avoiding the usual flattery...