Saturday, September 19, 2020

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I'm just going to come out and say it. This is, to date, the most expensive whiskey I've ever reviewed:  $1299.00 a bottle.  For the record, I've tasted more expensive liquor but never reviewed it. Today I'm drinking a Highland Scotch: The Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage, from The GlenDronach.

The Kingsman is a collaboration between Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie and The Kingsman franchise director Matthew Vaughn. It was inspired by a bottle of whiskey at the distillery - the oldest one they had - a 29-year Single Malt from 1913.

"This expression is deep in meaning, paying homage to fallen friends who bravely fought during WWI, and the depth of character and integrity shared by both The GlenDronach and the Kingsman agency. This is none other than a whisky truly fit for a King’s Man." - Dr. Rachel Barrie

As a Single Malt, this is 100% malted barley. It was distilled in 1989, then aged for 29 years in Oloroso sherry casks. Then, it was finished in Pedro Ximénez casks before being bottled at 50.1% ABV. A total of 3052 bottles exist and they hit the shelves on September 1st.

Now that you know all of the facts, it is time to #DrinkCurious.  But, first, I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing me with a sample of The Kingsman in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's get to it, shall we?

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, at the vantage point I'm looking at it, it looks like motor oil. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that would be used in a whisky review.  This is the deepest, darkest whisky I've ever laid eyes on. Naturally-colored or not, caramel coloring doesn't do this. This is a result of being in the barrel for 29 years. The photo below is not run through any filter.

It left no rim on the glass at all. No matter how many times I tried to generate one, it never happened. It was just a curtain of alcohol that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:   If you hung out at a fruit stand, you'd understand what I'm about to describe. Fig. Apricot. Raisin. Plum. Citrus. But, it wasn't all fruit. Dark chocolate and cinnamon dust hid beneath all that. When I inhaled through my mouth, fig and vanilla rolled across my palate.

Palate:  As I tipped the glass to my lips, it was thick and luxurious like syrup. As far as flavor, that orchard just kept slamming my tastebuds. Raisin, fig, plum, vanilla, and brown sugar kept the front of my palate busy. Come mid-palate, the brown sugar became molasses. Almond and orange peel were there, too. Then, on the back, I found dark chocolate, cocoa, clove, nutmeg, and then pear.

Finish:  Raisin was the obvious flavor, and that was followed by berries, oak, and nutmeg. But, then, it was like I shoved a huge piece of rum-soaked fruitcake in my mouth. The good kind of fruitcake, not the rock-hard crap that nobody is willing to open. There was a smidge of gingerbread. And, just before I thought things were done, the pear reappeared.  This was a long-lasting finish that just wouldn't give up.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I write for the everyman. That's my schtick. The average whiskey drinker isn't spending $1300 on a bottle of booze. A review needs a rating. 

I have no idea what a pour of this might cost at a bar. A couple hundred? Who the hell knows. But, this was a damned good whisky. It is absolutely memorable. Have I tried a better Scotch? I've had 40+-year-old Scotch, which was amazeballs, but this is just beyond words. This is not just a drink, this is an experience.

If you have deep pockets and want a really special pour, this one earns a Bottle. If you have an opportunity to try The Kingsman, whether a bottle or a dram at a bar, go for it. Your wallet will be lighter but I guarantee you won't be unhappy. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

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