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.
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):
|Glenmorangie 15 Year Old Sauternes Wood Finish (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
|Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
|Strong sweet desert wine, oak, musk, honey, very faint lactic scent
|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.
|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
|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.
|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.