Aug 042014

In a previous post on Sauternes finishes I wrote that since Sauternes casks are so expensive, we rarely see sauternes matured whiskys, and there are but a few Sauternes finished whiskys around. For a recent Sauternes themed meeting of the Malt Mongers – Israel Club held in July, we had two pairs of old vs. new – two Tullibardine Sauternes finishes whiskys and the two Glenmorangies. You can read my comparison of the two Glenmorangies here.


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Strangely, both tastings indicated that the new expressions were better than the old ones, although the mentioning the Glenmorangie and the Tullibardine in the same breath is doing Glenmorangie an injustice.  In general, there is something non distinct about the Tullibardine malt, and the combination with the finishing cask (Sauternes in the case of the 225 and Burgundy in the case of the 228, both of which I’ve tasted). I’m not sure if more time in the finishing cask is what’s needed, or if it’s just the distillery new make and style, in which case you can like it or leave it (and for me, at least, it’s “leave it”…). I will add a cautionary note, stating that I didn’t taste the plain ex-bourbon cask expression yet, the Sovereign, so I don’t know how the whisky is without a finishing cask’s influence.

While we’re mainly concerned with the quality of the spirit in this blog, value for your money is clearly an issue. Sadly, in Israel, the line is priced at just under double its correct price point (which I normally gauge at about 10-15% above prices in the UK, indicating blatant importer greed), and thus represents a terrible VFM.

So how are they?

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Tullibardine Sauternes (46% ABV) Tullibardine 225 (43% ABV)

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Gold, quick legs Color Pale gold, quick legs that leave drops
Fresh leaves, malt notes of vanilla and pineapple Nose Banana, petit beurre biscuit and cake base.
Grass, black pepper, chili pepper, cloves. Very spicy and malty. Palate Light in the mouth, sweet with vanilla and spices (nutmeg, clove and pepper.
Long and spicy, stays long on the tongue Finish Medium with spicy – mainly peppery – notes
This expression is more interesting than the 225, but is not as smooth. I think that if this whisky spent more time in the finishing cask, it might do pretty well. Conclusion  The 225 is more drinkable than the old one.


Sadly, I can’t say I recommend either of these. Were I to score whiskys on a scale of 1-100, which I don’t – because I don’t think there’s any real meaning to the difference between a 91 and a 93.5, nor do I think that there’s any really consistent way to give these scores across the board – both of them would be low 70s.
While I don’t score whiskys, I do think a blogger should take a stand, and if I like a whisky, you’ll know it and you’ll also know it when I don’t. I guess it’s pretty obvious where I stand on these two expressions.

Jul 142014

Sauternes casks are just about as expensive as casks get. Thus, whisky maturing in Sauternes casks is both relatively rare (compared to bourbon, sherry or other wine finishes) and fairly expensive. Full maturation in Sauternes casks is almost unheard of, with only a few examples around (the Ballechin #8 Sauternes Cask comes to mind), and of the whiskys finished in Sauternes casks, perhaps none are as widely available as the Glenmorangie Nectar D’or.

Glenmorangie is one of two pretenders to the crown of wood finishes, battling The Balvenie for the title of this innovation. Until one (or more likely, both distilleries) pioneered transferring whisky aging in a regular cask (i.e. an inexpensive bourbon cask) into a highly desired (and costly) cask, whisky spent its entire maturation – still to bottle – in the same cask. Proving the concept, the desired finish could be achieved in a fraction of the time it took to mature whisky, and by using 1st, 2nd and 3rd fill finishing casks wisely, could get more mileage out of each cask.

Château d'Yquem - Photo Credit: LVMH News -

Château d’Yquem – Photo Credit: LVMH News –

One of the most famous Sauternes vineyards in Bordeaux – Château d’Yquem – is owned by LVMH,  the same company that owns Glenmorangie, so supply of these high quuality barriques to Glenmorangie is, most likely, guaranteed. I will mention, though, that nowhere is it stated that Glenmorangie actually uses the Château d’Yquem barriques, and this is just my own assumption.

In a Sauternes themed meeting of the Tel-Aviv Malt Mongers Club, held amid falling rocket and the shock over Brazil’s complete falling apart in the World Cup, we had two pairs of old vs. new – two Tullibardine Sauternes finishes whiskys and the two Glenmorangies.


But before the Nectar D’or, there was the Glenmorangie 15 Year Old Sauternes Wood Finish. The difference? The Nectar D’or is aged 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, then two additional years in the Sauternes barriques, whereas the 15 spent the same decade in the American oak casks, then five full years in the Sauternes wood.

So how are they? Let’s try a new format for comparisons (drumroll):

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Glenmorangie 15 Year Old Sauternes Wood Finish (46% ABV, NCF, NC) Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or (46% ABV, NCF, NC)

Nectar d'Or Photo Credit:

Nectar d’Or
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Deep Amber Color Deep gold
Strong sweet desert wine, oak, musk, honey, very faint lactic scent Nose Some lacticity, orange, cookie batter, spices and sweet wine with a whiff of butter.
Full bodied, a lot of oak, lacticity, acetone, concentrated sweetened milk and pepper. Palate Spice (pepper and clove) full bodied, sweet grapes, citrus peels with some of the fresh fruit, but not too much of it.
Pleasant but very quick, leaving just a little bit of spice behind Finish Spice, dry wine on sides of cheeks. Long and warming.
This expression has two flaws: the oak is too pronounced and the finish is too quick. While the lacticity in Bruichladdich is overpowering for me, here it was actually pleasant, but overall – the 12 year Nectar d’Or is actually better. Conclusion This expression is fruitier and much less oaky than the 15. The lacticity here goes more in the direction of butter, rather than curd.Of the two, this expression is the better drink, and being readily available – you can just get one to enjoy.

Did you like the new comparison format, or do you prefer reading them one after the other?
Let me know in the comments.