Hi wine nerds! Don’t like Whiskey? Or want something more than your piddly 20% ABV Port? Well, you’re in luck. Scotland’s Glenmorangie, having perfected the 12 Year Single Malt, happens to work within Moët Hennesey’s empire. With that extra bank, Glen could go wild and buy wine barrels to finish their spirits. This ruffled Scottish feathers a few decades ago. But today, distilleries enjoy adding wine spice to their still’s cupboard.
Today’s spirit, Glenmorangie’s Nectar d’Or, wiggled its way into Sauternes barrels. Yes, Sauternes: Bordeaux’s golden gift to dessert wine.
For those not Sauternes savvy: Bordeaux fog makes a fungus, aka noble rot, aka botrytis. It dries Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion grapes into funky, cheesy, hyper-sweet magic: aka Sauternes. Barrels tame it, absorbing sugars, aromas and flavors over years. The funny thing is, LVMH’s empire houses another icon that happens to come from Sauternes: Château d’Yquem.
Yquem stands upon the pinnacle of dessert wine (Premier Cru Supérieur (“Superior First Growth”). They carry over two hundred years of prestige as the only Sauternes producer included in 1855’s classification of Bordeaux’s best wines.
If rumor holds weight, after living a decade in Bourbon barrels, Yquem’s barrels might just finish Glen’s spirit for two more years. Does this give them the magic touch?
Glenorangie, Nectar d’Or, Highland Single Malt Whiskey, Scotland
The APPEARANCE looks a clear, mild, amber wheat color with brassy highlights. Intense, sexy AROMAS sit on a base of almond croissant, burnt honey, vanilla powder, with ginger and clove spice clanging overhead. I pick a whiff of gooseberry, lemongrass hanging on from Sauvignon Blanc touching those barrels. The PALATE has a slight crystalized sugar sweetness, but finishes dry, with slightly woody tannins, a lilting acidity, and a viscous round but medium body, punctuated by edgy 46% ABV heat. The FLAVORS inch in, slow and sweet, with pure golden honey, dried chamomile, gold raisins, turning to hot coals, pepper, and charred vanilla that last a medium plus length.
Glenmorangie’s Nectar D’Or is far from perfect. The high alcohol burns and the Bourbon barrels nod too heavily to Scotch’s past. It tries the impossible, to dip a foot in Whiskey and the other toe in dessert wine royalty. But taming the heat and char could render it sickly sweet and one note. The marriage may not seem seamless, nevertheless, Nectar d’Or is very good (4 of 5) and admirably ambitious. Skip dessert and sip this instead. Or pair it with funky cheeses drizzled in honey.