“Subtle” is among the more interesting words one can use to describe a whisky. There are a couple of ways it can be used, but I typically choose it when labeling something as understated. As a bourbon lover, I’ll admit that discerning between nuanced and straight-up boring isn’t always plain as day. Yet even in the case of the latter, I’m still willing to give a whisky the benefit of the doubt, which is why I’ll occasion myself to revisit (non-peated) single malt scotch every now and then. The last Glenmorangie product I looked at, Quinta Ruban, was a welcome change of pace from the usual Highland and Speyside offerings that leave me saying one of two things: “I appreciate it more than I enjoy it” or “it’s just another scotch.” With that in mind, let’s take a look at one of the least recognized Glenmorangie expressions (in my experience): Nectar d’Or.
Like most of the bottles in Glenmorangie’s Tasting Set, Nectar d’Or is a finished product, utilizing Sauternes (sweet French white wine) casks. Unlike the other three bottles, however, Nectar d’Or comes without an age statement. It’s also the most expensive bottle in the lineup, commanding a rough $70-$80 cost for a fifth (750ml). The process used to create Sauternes wine is dependent on a host of factors, from location to climate, which can lead to high production costs. So the premium Nectar d’Or carries isn’t without justification, but does it result in that much better of a pour? Time to find out.
Nose: Soft and sweet. Cream, lemon meringue, vanilla, and honey. Fruits to include white grapes, pear, and maybe golden raisins are buried under the aforementioned notes, which somehow feel light yet also pervasive. A touch effervescent or floral with hints of mellowed orange zest, nutmeg, and ginger.
Palate: Medium-bodied with gentle dessert notes that soon give way to the traditional Glenmorangie backbone. Honey with a lightly creamy, gentle vanilla note. Orange with accents of melon, pear, and even lychee for good measure. A touch of oak rounds out the back.
Finish: Oak-influenced honey and lightly baked pear with a gentle supply of baking spices (nutmeg, sweet ginger, and cinnamon).
I remember being unimpressed by this whisky when I first tried it early last year. Yet the more time I spend expanding my whisky tasting portfolio, the easier it becomes to appreciate the smaller, more subtle aspects. Nectar d’Or went from something I could barely distinguish against its baseline counterpart to something I’d happily take over The Original if given the choice of a free bottle. Both this and Quinta Ruban do well to round out the rough edges of The Original, but the core spirit is clearly more intact with this one. It’s also far less indulgent than the port-finished expression, which may make it a perfect fit for those who prefer a less overt dram.
Would I buy a bottle of Nectar d’Or for myself? Not at this point in time, but I do think it would make a fantastic, slightly premium gift for fans of finished whisky. The main barrier for me is cost, since the $70+ price point is where competition gets particularly stiff, especially if we throw American whiskey into the battlefield. Nectar d’Or is absolutely enjoyable and should appeal to fans of Highland and Speyside scotches who welcome a discrete amount of added richness.