A few weeks ago I had a lot of fun reviewing a first release, the Bivrost Niflheim (thanks once again to Charlie for sending me that sample).
While I missed out on a bottle of that first release, I was lucky to be fast enough to secure a bottle of the second, bottle 2160 of 2496. This World Whisky Wednesday I’m looking at Aurora Spirits second release, the Nidavellir.
I took some time to go over Aurora Spirits there, and highly recommend you have a read all about it. In regards to the whisky, Aurora Spirits are always happy to let us know anything and everything about their releases.
For malt Aurora Spirits have used Planet and Popino Nordic Barley, alongside water sourced from Elvejordvannet and fermented with Lager Yeast. Triple distillation with two active plates through their hybrid copper pot and column still takes on average 8-10 hours, with the collected new make about 75%.
The casks have a story of their own, matured in ex-bourbon quarter casks and barrels previously used by Heaven Hill for 32 months. To compliment this the whisky spent its final 5 to 6 months finishing in French Oak, these casks first used by a New Zealand winery to mature their Pinot Noir before being purchased by an Islay distillery, being charred and scored inside before Aurora Spirits purchased 6 casks to finish their Nidavellir.
But what of the name? Each of Bivrosts ‘Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology’ is named for one of the realms, so there of course is a story there….
Once there was nothing, only Ginnungagap, the primordial abyss. In its north lies Nilfheim, a realm of ice and frozen wastes. South lies Muspelheim, where fire covers the land. As the ice and fire met, mists covered the maw of everything, and Yggdrasil grew with its branches to encompass the nine realms.
Asgard, home of the Gods.
Vanaheim, home of the Vanir.
Midgard, home of women and men.
Helheim, where sit Fenrir and Hel.
Jotunheim, where Giants stride.
Muspelheim, a realm of fire.
Niflheim, filled with ice and snow.
Alfheim, where the light elves dwell.
There stood in the north
The golden hall
Of Sindri’s family.
A dark land of Dwarves and golden halls, Nidavellir lies deep beneath Midgard. There in the dark the Dwarves toiled at their forges, known for their craftmanship and magic as they crafted Thors Hammer Mjolnir, Odirs Spear Gungnir and Skidbladnir, Freyas magic ship. Amongst their treasures was the Mead of Poetry which inspires poets to grasp their verse.
There dwelt the dragon Fafnir, son of the king Hreiomar, who guarded the golden halls. Slain by Sigurd and his sword ‘Gram’, the dwarves forged the chain ‘Gleipnir’ from the stomping of cats, the beards of women, the roots of mountains, the spit of birds, the breathe of fishes and the sinew of a bear. After the chains forged by Thor failed to bind Fenrir the Wolf, ‘Gleipnir’ binds Fenrir until Ragnarok comes.
You’ve got to love Norse mythology. I’ve been excited to get my bottle of this for some time, but of course we can’t make until judgements until we taste it. Let’s dive in.
As the molten melted gold breathes life into the air, our nose transports us to Dark Halls filled with the scent of toast spread with rosemary and thyme butter. Celeriac and pumpkin soup floats past, as hints of ripe blue cheese mingle with earthy mint. Grapefruit rind, peach skins and rockmelon hide mix with old honey and hand squeezed quandong. Clove oil, pepper and aniseed are tossed through a stream of smoky vanilla and charred seaweed, and suddenly we scent a fresh morning kelp dump drifting past with the scent of white chocolate and caramel. There is a fire in these halls, somewhere a forge still burns.
We chase these notes on the palate, finding a thick vein of iron next to peat made of coastal flowers, mainly heather, all dug up and cast into forge for the next great work. Vanilla custard passes by but the palate is more savoury than sweet, somewhere there a sourdough of salt and rosemary is pulled from an oven. It starts to get peppery, with plenty of tang as cherries and mulberries are burnt over the fire, now burning from fresh grass and hay. We head deeper into the dark and find rich mushrooms and sous bois, salt mines and celery with tangy raspberry bonbons.
We reach our journeys end as we locate the forge, there the iron melts and oxidizes, and we find scrapings of burnt toast, heaped with cinnamon and pepper.
I am at a bit of a loss with the dram. It is not bad, not by any means, but it is not as approachable as the Niflheim. The casks are well used and add an intense amount of layers to the whisky, in a much different way to other whiskies I’ve had matured in a similar fashion, it is certainly the more interesting of the two releases.
I would hesitate to say it is the better whisky though. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer it, and am gutted that it sold out as quick as it did as I would have loved another bottle or two, but in the wider world of whisky I think this has a more narrow appeal, if a more intense fan base.
The Nidavellir from Aurora Spirits is another success for their team, more interesting in conception of design and craftsmanship than almost any other distillery as young as them. More interesting than others older than them as well. If they stay their course with their future releases than the Bivrost Whisky collection, and Aurora Spirits, will go down as the most exciting new distillery for a host of reasons.
Now I’ve got to go back and contemplate this whisky some more. What to pair with this one…
That will do nicely.
If you would like to learn more about Aurora Spirits, click here to discover their story.
This review is not sponsored or endorsed by any distillery, Aurora Spirits or otherwise, and is entirely the words of the author Somewhiskybloke.
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