The Glenlivet, the storied single-malt Scotch distiller of the Speyside region, is adding two entrants to its Nàdurra collection. Along with the brace of new cask-strength drams comes the option to obtain a chair specifically created as a throne in which to enjoy them.
The first of the two, Nàdurra Oloroso, is available now, and the second, Nàdurra First Fill Selection, is expected in the spring of 2015. They join Nàdurra 16 Year Old in a range named for the Gaellic word for "natural." All small-batch releases, they are also not chill-filtered and bottled at cask strength as a tribute to the way the distillery's founder, George Smith, would have tasted it. Smith was the first to obtain a distilling license in Scotland after the Excise Act of 1823 relaxed regulations.
The Nàdurra Chair was created by the celebrated British furniture designer Gareth Neal to reflect the use of oak and copper in making whisky. It also holds a glass of it on each of the outstretched arms quite nicely, thank you. A whisky drinker himself, Neal built the chair, which has a leather seat, to be portable—the better to transport it to your favorite place to sip and meditate. That contemplation will cost you, however. The cost of the made-to-order chair runs about $9,800.
By contrast, the Nàdurra Oloroso may seem a steal at $79, especially when you consider that the cask-strength designation runs the alcohol content up about 30 points higher than the usual 80 proof. The new whisky is aged in casks first used for aging Oloroso Sherry in the Jerez region of Spain. The coming First Fill Selection is taken from American white oak barrels.
The labeling includes proof-statement, cask-type and batch-number stamps.
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso (cask strength varies, but expect over 110 proof, or 55 percent alcohol by volume; no age statement; $79 a 750-milliliter bottle)
APPEARANCE: Medium copper-to-brass color. You wait and wait for this whisky to bead up, and when it finally does it comes down in a slow dribble of sinuous legs.
NOSE: Sexy, fruity nose with red berries and grapes, backed up with cinnamon, licorice and a bit of Christmas cake spice.
PALATE: Explosive fruits come right from the start, with all the berries and grapes from the nose, plus the presumed Sherry taste. Again, you wait a beat, but then there is the second coming, which is full of spice and a measure of nuts.
FINISH: The fight over your attention conducted by the palate elements is so intense that you almost don't notice the creaminess that creeps up and signs this dram.
CIGAR PAIRING: Achilles Heroicos (Nicaragua, 5 1/4" by 50 ring gauge, $8.50, 93 points, Cigar Insider August 5, 2014) A hearty foundation of earth and coffee underscore complex layers of cinnamon, nutmeg and gingerbread. Rich and delicious without overpowering the palate. Chosen to match the spice of the whisky, the cigar certainly does that—with a boost on the Christmas spice, while elevating the cinnamon and bringing out ginger on the Nàdurra. But the Achilles gets a payback from the malt, which makes the smoke leathery and round in addition to its other virtues. A resounding pairing.
La Palina Collection Mr. Sam (Nicaragua, 5 1/4 inches by 42 ring gauge, $11.00, 90 points, Cigar Insider July 15, 2014) Covered in a dark and slightly veiny wrapper, this corona draws and burns evenly. Initial earthy, woody notes lead to a cedary and nutty finish. We matched these two to see how the whisky would fare with the addition of earth tones—and the contrast was another success, taking the Nàdurra into another space of heartiness. The whisky's creaminess was evident immediately, and its recessive nuts became, well, ballsier. Mr. Sam got fruit and sweetness in return for its efforts. While both marriages were quite successful, we're giving this one the nod for its surprising transformations.