French for golden drink of the gods, Nectar D’Or is the standard Glenmorangie release that they then finished in a Sauternes cask. 2011 saw it transition from an NAS bottling to one with a 12 year age statement, but I still see a lot of the NAS stuff around me at the moment. The Nectar D’Or I’m tasting here is the original.
Sauternes, not to be confused with Sauterne, is a sweet wine from an appellation in the Bordeaux wine region, Sauternais. The grapes are infected with botrytis (noble rot), a very fickle type of fungus that under favorable conditions shrivels the grapes, concentrates sweetness and flavors, and adds some extra funkiness to the mix. The wine is sweet, acidic and slightly nutty, usually cask matured for 1-3 years. Though it is difficult to make because the fungus is so hard to control, Sauternes can age for an extremely long time once in the bottle. Noble rot’s difficult cultivation makes after market casks rare and, therefore, expensive.
This cask finish is one of three in their extra-matured line up, along with a Sherry finish and Port finish; Lasanta and Quinta Ruban respectively. Despite the similar base spirit they are all very different, and a great way to explore what a cask finish can do for a spirit.
Even outside of the atypical finishes, Glenmorangie has one of the most involved wood programs in the industry for their own casks. They air dry wood from forests they own in the Ozarks and then use it to cooper casks for Jack Daniels and Heaven Hill. After those distilleries finish using them to mature Bourbon, the casks are shipped to Scotland where they are used only two more times by Glenmorangie. The careful wood selection and high level of involvement along the way helps maintain a high quality of spirit.
Nose: Dessert wine, it almost starts to smell like Oloroso before taking a sharp turn to funky apricot, key lime pie and bamboo chopsticks. Heavily toasted, nutty graham cracker crumbs and cheesecake slide under pomegranate and very prominent ginger powder.
Palate: The fortified wine is the first to break out here, dancing over waffles and a gingery finish. Balanced lime pith bitterness, wafts of peaches, dried licorice root and a tiny bit of almond extract. I can almost taste a very fruity coffee in the long end of the finish.
Among many other savory things, Sauternes pairs well with oysters, lobster, foie gras, or blue cheese. I happen to know whisky goes very well with all of those, too, the foie and cheese being two of my favorites. Thanks again to Gretha Smart and David Blackmore for the samples!