Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Whiskey Wednesday: GlenDronach

GlenDronach is a relatively obscure Speyside distillery, known for sherried malts, which has been raising its profile of late. Like Ardbeg and Bruichladdich, GlenDronach was closed for a brief period in the '90s. The distillery shuttered in 1996 and was reopened in 2002, but the real action took place in 2008 when liquor giant Pernod-Ricard sold the distillery to the owners of the BenRiach Distillery. BenRiach rebooted GlenDronach and launched a new line of whiskies including 12, 15, 18, 31 and 33 year old expressions and a vintage series. The 12, 15 and 18 began hitting US shelves in 2010 so I thought I would check them out. (Excluding the 31 which doesn't seem to be available in the US).

GlenDronach 12 "Original", 43% ($45)

The Original is aged in Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. I love the nose on this with chocolate, sherry and dried cherries. The palate is sweet with chocolate notes. The finish is sweet with sherry fumes. This screams to be accompanied by a chocolate bar in the 80% cacao range. There is not a huge amount of complexity here but it's a pleasant sherried number.

GlenDronach 15 "Revival," 46% ($75)

Probably the most popular GlenDronach, the Revival is aged in Oloroso sherry casks. The nose is much more muted than the 12, with less sweetness but the same sherry interplay with just a touch of rubber. On the palate, you get a bit drier sherry with malt and the background. There are some of the same chocolate notes that you get with the 12 but less sweetness. It's a solid sherried malt.

GlenDronach 18 "Allardice," 46% ($120)

Named for the distillery's founder James Allardice, the Allardice, like the Revival, is also aged in Olorso sherry casks. The nose on this one is really wonderful. It doesn't bang you over the head at all but it's got some deep sherry and deep dark chocolate going on. The palate starts with a drier sherry than the others. There are some metallic notes and some interesting botanical notes which last into the finish that are almost vermouth like. This is a very nice one.

GlenDronach 33, Vintage 1971, 40% ($330)

The nose on this has very refined, dry sherry notes. The palate is very pure, dry sherry flavor with some vanilla, floral and woody notes as well. There is lots of flavor packed into this even at only 40% abv. The finish is fleeting with sherry and fruit. This is certainly the most complex of the lot.

Tasting through these all at once, the house style is definitely heavy on sweet sherry with chocolate notes, though they get drier as they age. For my part, the 12 was a bit too sweet for me, and I tended to enjoy them more as they got older. Fans of Macallan, Glenfarclas and other sherried malts should definitely give GlenDronach a try.


JSJ said...

I will be interested to see how the profile of the 15 changes over the next few years as necessarily older whiskies are used. By the time 2016 rolls around, the 15 could theoretically be made up entirely of 20 year old whisky. I also wonder if the distillery would continue to put out a 15 at that point, or pause the release of the 15 until post-2002 distillate comes of age. Regardless, I may pick up another bottle to hold onto for an educational head-to-head down the road.

Anonymous said...

Technically the 12 year old is a 15 year old whisky because Glendronach presently has no 12 year old stock (since they had only restarted production again in 2002).

JSJ said...

Exactly, I'd just rather follow the 15 as it gets older rather than the 12 as it gets younger (as it surely will do in 2014).

JSJ said...

Two years later and I still haven't stocked up. This is s distressing development.