Saturday, December 19, 2015

Glenlivet Nadurra - Dumbed down whisky ?

So this is actually my 19th bar visit for my 24 Bars in Aarhus advent calendar

But it's also time for a rant. The NAS rant - every whisky blogger just has to go there I guess.

I went down to an irish pub in Aarhus called Tir Na Nog for a Glenlivet Gueardian event. The purpose of the tasting was the introduction of 1 or 2 new versions of Glenlivet Nadurra

Let me start from the beginning. What is NAS whisky ?

NAS means No Age Statement

Quite often a whisky will have an age statement. Like 12 years old, or 25 years old. This means the youngest whisky in the bottle has matured at least 12 or 25 years in oak casks. Or whatever the label says. Other whiskies have age statement by letting you know the distillitation and bottling dates. Somethng like: Distilled 25th October 1990, Bottled Spring 2012.

NAS whisky has no indication of the age of the whisky, or not much. It can be 25 years old or it can be 3 years old. You don't know. 3 years is the minimum age for scottish whisky, so that is guarenteed.

The setup for this tasting was Glenlivet Founders Reserve, 15yo, 18yo, 21yo, 25yo and 3 different versions of Glenlivet Nadurra. The First Fill Nadurra, Nadurra Oloroso and Peated Nadurra

Let me focus on Nadurra here. The very first Nadurras were cask strength and had an age statement. 16 years old. They were fantastic whiskies. And very popular. Nadurra means natural in gaelic and I was told that Glenlivet wanted to bottle "natural" whisky. I assumed this is why they bottled this at cask strength and the casks choosed were first fill ex-bourbon. No messing around with the whisky from winecasks.

But then the dumbing down of an excellent product started. First versions bottled at 48% appeared, then no age statement oloroso versions came, and now we see releases of NAS cask strength and NAS 48% versions of Nadurra First Fill

And it doesn't taste anything like the original batches

The whisky of the new 63.1% Fist Fill Nadurra is nothing like the Age Statement 16yo original cask strength versions. They were vanilla-oak-citrus bombs and fantastic whiskies. The new version is perfumy, newmaky and hot. So what happened? Glenlivet builds up a fantastic brand of quality whisky. And now they try to sell much yonger, not as good whisky, for the same price. Caveat Emptor

This is one reason I don't like NAS whiskies. It usually goes as above. A great brand. It used to be good whisky, but the good whisky is replaced with younger whisky, and the quality declines. The price usually doesn't

I do know that an age statement doesn't mean the quality for a whisky stays the same, but at least the consumer got a little bit of guarentee of what they buy

And don't get me wrong. I don't dislike NAS whisky or young whisky. There is plenty of examples of good whisky that have no age statement and there is plenty of examples of good whiskies that are young and has an age statement. Unfortunately, the main reason that producers change a version from an age statement to NAS is so that they can dumb down the quality

I don't have to go far to find another example. Glenlivet Founder's Reserve. This is slowly replacing Glenlivet 12yo in many market and retail shops. It was the first whisky of the tasting at Tir Na Nog, and it tasted like Glenlivet with added New Make. Another Dumbed Down Product

Go back 5 years and read this press release from Chivas Bros

How ironic

Now back to Tir Na Nog

Tir Na Nog is another irish pub in Aarhus. They have an excellent selection of irish whiskies

I don't recall beeing in another bar with so many different irish whiskies. 

Beside the irish whiskies there was also a lot of scottish whiskies. A lineup of OB's from better known distilleries, Glenlivet included

The main problem with the whisky here is that it was terrible overpriced. 250Dkr (25£) for 1999 single cask 2cl ?

If you buy 4cl you get 50% of the last 2cl's. Still expensive, and I am not a big supporter of volume discounts. Doesn't really fit into my drink responsible, drink less - drink better pholosophy for the concerned whisky entusiast where taste matters more than volume.

The beer selection was mainly standard stuff

A lineup like this scares me

But there were a few good alternatives for the beer entusiast


Ok, You might still not be impressed but I found this gem in the bar

Which was a very good stout from Porterhouse

I had to try a whisky and my choice went on

It was ok to try a cask strength irish whisky and it had a somewhat sensible price of "just" 90DKR (9£) for 2cl

Would I recommend Tir Na Nog. Not really. It's a party place and more "corporate" than "entusiast"

After the tasting most of the people went to the bar and one of the staff asked us what we thought of the tasting. Our answers were in the line of. Good Whisky, but the Nadurra was a pale shadow compared to the original version. (I probably said "The new Nadurra is crap, I want the old one back, which was excellent")

The guy behind the bar started arguing with the group "It's all a matter of taste"

I was about to bang my head down the bar and answer "No, it's a matter of you don't have a clue about what a good whisky is" but I was luckily "rescued" by a colleague who tapped me on the shoulder

"Hey, Steffen, Are you here?, what a coincidence"

Saved by the bell

I could say that Johnny Walker Red is just as good as Brora 1972. It's all a matter of taste!. Aye, it's a matter of taste. But would you trust my other whiskyrecommendations ? or buy whisky from me? No. You would go somewhere else, somewhere where people makes more sense

PS I really liked the 15, 18, 21 and 25yo. Especially the 25. Age Does Matter. Sometimes

Tir Na Nog has a website here

24 Bars in Aarhus MAP


  1. Great reading about the pubs in Aarhus and couldn't agree more on this NAS-crap...

    Been curious on this peated Nadurra when first read about it but seems maybe better save the money for something else (less parfumed and newmaky)... :/


  2. Hi Fredde. It was the First Fill Nadurra I found perfumy and newmaky. The peated was...peaty :-). More peaty than you will expect and it's surprisingly how much smoke an ex-islay cask can infuse


  3. Hehe, saw my read error after I posted... Seems I have to pick up the hunting for some peated Nadurra anyway! :D

  4. Hi steffen.
    Thank you very much for you review of our bar. We´re happy that you enjoy our Irish Whiskey selection. Currently 46 and counting. And to my knowlegement the biggest in this country. You'll be happy to hear that I managed to purchase a couple of bottles of Nadurra cask 16 yrs ready for you. Unfortunately the aged whiskies are getting hard to come by - and VERY expensive to buy in too. We see you've taken a notice of our Midleton single cask 1999, cask strength. It´s 250,- for 2 cl. and 375,- for 4 cl. This is a very rare bottle and had to come by. "IF" you manage to but one on an auction it´ll be way over 3.000 DKK. So we think it fairly priced. In regards to markup we actually make a lot less on this than the cheaper whiskies. We hope to see you back again soon.

    Thanks, Andreas Ruigrok (owner)