Showing posts with label PX. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PX. Show all posts

Friday, June 2, 2023

The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


One of my favorite Highland Scotch distilleries is The GlenDronach. The distillery exploits fine sherry casks to age its newmake and create something consistently above-par. Located in Aberdeenshire, it was founded in 1826 by James Allardice; its name comes from the Gaelic Glen (meaning valley) and Dronach (meaning brambles or blackberries) from the Dronach Burn, which is the river that provides the distillery its water. Together, The GlenDronach means the valley of the blackberries.


Things were great for nine years until the distillery was destroyed by fire in 1837. Not interested in giving up, Allardice quickly rebuilt it. Allardice went bankrupt in 1842 and had to divest himself of his assets, including The GlenDronach. In 1852, Walter Scott, the former distillery manager of Teaninich, became the owner until 1877. Over the next 40-some-odd years, it changed hands several times and was eventually acquired by Captain Charles Grant in 1920. His family maintained ownership until 1960, when William Teachers & Sons purchased the distillery. At that point, The GlenDronach went through a refitting that included adding two stills.


By 1976, Teachers had been purchased by Allied Distillers, and the deal included The GlenDronach. The distillery was shuttered in 1996. Six years later, Allied revived it, and in 2005, Pernod Ricard purchased Allied, but it wasn’t interested in keeping The GlenDronach. In 2008, BenRiach Distillery Co., Ltd., led by Billy Walker, purchased it and honed in on aging whisky in ex-sherry casks instead of former Bourbon barrels. Things went well and caught the attention of Brown-Forman, who bought it, along with BenRiach and Glenglassaugh. Dr. Rachel Barrie was brought in as the Master Blender of all three distilleries. At the same time, Billy Walker went to The GlenAllachie.


A relatively recent decision by The GlenDronach was to introduce chill filtration to its whiskies. This change was controversial among fans of the brand. My view on chill filtration is the same as nearly every other aspect of the whiskey in front of me: How does it smell and taste? At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.


Today I’m exploring The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 single malt Scotch.


The GlenDronach Cask Strength offers connoisseurs a deep insight into the distillery’s signature character, by bottling at the whisky’s natural cask strength, as was the custom before the turn of the 20th Century. Add a drop or two of water to open up the liquid and reveal a cornucopia of flavors; from rich mocha to raisin-filled fruit-cake and indulgent crème brûlée. Such is the reward of our twelfth batch of The GlenDronach Cask Strength, a richly sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky matured in fine Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie


Batch 12 carries no age statement and is bottled at 58.2% ABV (116.4°). The whisky is naturally colored, and my sample provided no information on chill filtration. It has a suggested price of $104.99 and is available from select retailers across the United States.


So, back to the original question: How does it smell and taste? The only way I know how to answer that is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank The GlenDronach for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I sipped this single malt whisky neat from a Glencairn glass. Inside, it presented as a deep, slightly cloudy orange amber. A thinner rim produced crooked tears and sticky droplets.


Nose: The first things I smelled were dark chocolate and cherries. As I continued to sniff, I found plums, raisins, orange zest, and English toffee. When I took a whiff through my mouth, the chocolate became fudgy.   


Palate: The texture bordered on syrupy. The front of my palate encountered coffee, cocoa powder, and hazelnuts. The middle tasted of Grand Marnier with a touch of wood. The back featured cherries, caramel, and almond.


Finish: The flavor of orange-brandied liqueur was glued to my tongue while the rest of my mouth and throat relished the chocolate, nut, and cherry notes. There's no heat whatsoever. It was medium in duration; my complaint is that it wasn’t long enough.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I could sum this up in a nice, pretty package or tell you this was enchantingly delicious. Is it worth $104.99? You betcha. Grab a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed. By the way, this eclipses last year’s Batch 11, which I went crazy for. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Lagavulin 2023 Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Review


This is the final installment in a series of six reviews. The previous in the series can be found here.


The distilleries involved are what Diageo refers to as The Six Classic Malts and are comprised of Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban, and Talisker. Each takes part in the DE program. Today, we’ll explore the 2023 Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition.


“Miles and miles of peat bog in the west of the island provide the raw material which imbues the barley with that distinct smoky flavour. Not to mention the rich peaty water that runs down the brown burn from the Solan Lochs and into the distillery. In case you haven’t figured it out, the smoky, peated Lagavulin is seen as the ultimate expression of this region.” - Diageo


In 1816, John Johnstone founded the first legal distillery at Lagavulin. There were many illicit ones prior, dating to at least 1742. Then, in 1817, a second distillery called Ardmore (no relation to the distillery that exists today) was built by Archibald Campbell. Ardmore went silent in 1821, and Johnstone purchased it in 1825. He ran them both, but in 1835, Ardmore was shuttered. A year later, Johnstone passed away, and Alexander Graham, a spirits merchant, purchased Lagavulin. Ardmore and Lagavulin merged operations under the name Lagavulin.


Graham’s son, Walter, was in charge until he left in 1848 to head up the Laphroaig Distillery. In 1852, Walter’s brother John Crawford Graham assumed control. Then, in 1862, it changed hands again, this time to James Logan Mackie.  


In 1878, James hired his nephew Peter. James passed away in 1889, and Peter took the helm, forming Mackie & Co


Here’s where things get interesting. In 1908, Peter got his panties in a bunch and built another distillery called Malt Mill. Malt Mill was constructed as a replica of Laphroaig’s distillery. His goal was to duplicate Laphroaig’s whisky. He failed, but Laphroaig sued anyway. The court dismissed Laphroaig’s allegations since Lagavulin utilized a different water source and peat than what Laphroaig used.


Peter died in 1924, and Mackie & Co changed its name to White Horse Distillers. Buchanan Dewar Ltd then acquired it, and in 1927, Buchanan Dewar Ltd merged with Distillers Company Limited, which eventually became Diageo.


I saved the Lagavulin for last for a few reasons. The main is that it is an Islay Scotch and should be very peaty. The second is anticipation. I love Lagavulin 16, the distillery’s core expression and the base of the DE.


Lagavulin 16 is packaged at 43% ABV (86°). The Distiller’s Edition adds a second maturation in Pedro Ximenez (PX)-seasoned American oak casks. This was the third reason; PX is my favorite type of sherry oak in whisky making.


PX sherry is made from Spanish white grapes grown around various regions, but primarily from the Denominación de Origen (DO) of Montilla-Moriles, creating a crazily sweet, dark dessert sherry.


Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition has a suggested price of $125.00.


While I’m about to #DrinkCurious, I realize that I’m potentially setting myself up for disappointment because of the three reasons that I kept this whisky for the last in the series.


Before I get there, I must thank Diageo for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I served this Scotch neat in a Glencairn glass. The liquid looked like dark bronze and created a microthin rim. Fast, thick tears fell, yet sticky droplets remained.


Nose: Peat and seaweed were the first smells I encountered. Aromas of raisins, apricots, caramel, and toffee followed. Salted caramel rolled across my tongue when I breathed through my mouth.  


Palate: The silky texture introduced the front of my palate to what I could swear was a caramel-rich, smoky barbeque sauce. Grilled pineapple, raisins, and apricots formed the middle. The back featured brine, tobacco leaf, and dark chocolate.


Finish: The finish was unusual, to say the least. It was like an ocean tide. It started with a peaty wave, then faded, and when I thought it would be short, another wave of peat rolled through. Overall, it was long, including flavors of tobacco leaf, dark chocolate, oak, and a distinct saltiness.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The PX influence was obvious. Lagavulin took an already fabulous whisky and added panache. Is this something that a peat newbie can handle? Not likely. But an Islay fan is going to go absolutely bonkers. This 16+-year-old single malt Scotch is worth the price of admission, and I’m sitting here wishing I had another Bottle.


As an added bonus, I’ll include notes from my review of Lagavulin 16 since I happen to have a bottle on hand. The tasting notes from my 2020 review of the core whisky are still dead-on:


Nose:  There was no mistaking the aroma: Peat, peat, and more peat. But, with a much more mature nose, I discovered brine and sweet caramel beneath all that peat.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was all vanilla cream. 


Palate:  My first sip was oily and coated but not what I could describe as heavy. The first thing to strike my palate was, not surprisingly, peat and ash. The best description I can use to tell what I tasted was coffee ice cream. The coffee and vanilla were thick.  Below those, I found brine and seaweed. 


Finish:  I found it was very long, smoky, and oaky. But, punching through that was a tasty caramel, chocolate, and toffee mixture similar to a Heath bar.


Well, there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews of the 2023 Distiller’s Edition whiskies. I know that I relished drinking them. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Friday, October 14, 2022

The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 11 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

One of my favorite ways to age whisky is in Pedro Ximénez casks. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with using virgin oak, former Bourbon barrels, wine, or other kinds of sherry. There is, however, something magical about how that PX sherry imparts fruity goodness on the liquid sunshine held within.


Unfortunately, the mere presence of a PX cask doesn’t translate to great whisky. You need to start with good distillate, hand-selected cooperage, and a master blender who knows what they are doing. Who is a reliable candidate to fit that bill?  The GlenDronach.


If you’ve never experienced a whiskey from The GlenDronach, you’ll want to remedy that situation. Located in the Highlands region, it was founded in 1826 and is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in all of Scotland. Its ownership changed hands several times until Allied Distillers mothballed it in 1996. Six years later, it reversed its decision and returned to full production. In 2005, Chivas Brothers took the helm for three years until, in 2008, The BenRiach Distillery Company, Ltd. purchased it, only to sell itself to Brown-Forman in 2016. And that’s when Dr. Rachel Barrie, it's Master Blender, unleashed her magic.


Today I’m exploring Grandeur Batch 11, a single malt Scotch that sat in both PX and Oloroso sherry casks for a whopping 28 years.


“The GlenDronach Grandeur is an unparalleled range of the finest aromas and character from masterful Spanish oak sherry cask maturation. A Single Malt of elegant finesse, this expression offers a symphony of sherry aromatics interwoven with dark manuka honey, roasted almond, and walnut. It is intense and full-bodied, as is the signature of The GlenDronach, with a crescendo of black cherry and espresso adorning each mouthful.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender


I don’t have too many opportunities to experience whiskies approaching three decades, and, on top of that, one that weighs in at a healthy 48.9% ABV (97.8°). As you can well imagine, a bottle like that commands an eyebrow-raising price tag. In the case of Grandeur Batch 11, it is $800.00.


Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I thank The GlenDronach for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: This elderly Scotch offered a rusty appearance and a heavy rim that stuck like glue. Thick tears were released, but for whatever reason, the ring remained.


Nose: As the whisky poured into my glass, a fruity aroma of plum, dark cherry, raisin, and black currant was already tickling my nostrils. A closer examination provided roasted almond, cocoa, and leather. Cherry and honey tangoed across my tongue when I inhaled the vapor through my mouth.


Palate:  I found the texture to be thin and oily, while the front of my palate encountered a punch of black cherry, black currant, and raisin. When I say punch, I mean it; there was an impact on my tongue. Midway through, I tasted leather, dark chocolate, and almond, while the back featured flavors of black pepper, espresso, and cigar.


Finish:  Long and warming, the finish was peppery, with plum, dark chocolate, cigar, and espresso. I felt it drank a bit above its stated proof.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I loved this Scotch. It was yet another example of Dr. Barrie’s immense talent. The nose, the palate, the finish; each told me this was a luxurious whisky. All things being equal, this would capture my Bottle rating. The elephant in the room is the price:  $800 is beyond my and many others' means. But that shouldn’t discount your chance at a dram of Grandeur Batch 11 if you can find it at a good whisky Bar. Cheers!



My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The GlenAllachie 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

The GlenAllachie (pronounced Glen-Alla-Key) is a relatively new Speyside distillery that's seen quite a bit of ownership changes in its short 55 years. Founded in 1967, its been open, closed, mothballed, reopened, used for strictly blends for Chivas Bros., then sold in 2017 to its current owners, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company.


The GDC completely revamped things with a plan to release whiskies bottled at no less than 46% ABV and are both naturally colored and non-chill filtered. It also allows 160 hours of fermentation time, claiming it gives them additional time to study what's in the tank. The campus is home to 16 warehouses holding 50,000 barrels of whisky!


Today I’m pouring GlenAllachie 12-Year, a single malt Scotch aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, along with first- and second-fill Bourbon barrels and virgin American oak casks. Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), the average retail price for a 750ml bottle is $65.00. 


“[W]e would like to introduce the most important release in the history of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company; GlenAllachie 12-year-old, the heart of our range, a landmark bottling. Our best casks selected and bottled under the careful eye of our Master Distiller Billy Walker.” – The GlenAllachie


Before I get to my tasting notes, I’d like to thank Impex Beverage for providing a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, GlenAllachie 12-Year appeared as dark mahogany. It created a thicker rim which formed fat, sticky legs.


Nose: From across the room, I could smell the sherry notes.  Raisin, green grape, fig, cherry, and dried apricot were accompanied by dark chocolate and oak. When I pulled the air past my lips, it was a big blast of banana pudding.


Palate:  The texture of molasses crawled across my tongue and didn’t go away. Dark chocolate, fig, and green grape were on the front, with raisin, clove, and leather on the middle. I found ginger, oak, and French vanilla on the back.


Finish:  The medium-to-long finish consisted of Mole Coloradito, ginger, clove, tobacco leaf, and oak.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is certainly reasonably priced for a 46% ABV 12-year Scotch. The nose was beautiful, the palate flavorful, and the finish; well, if I go to a Mexican restaurant and there’s a mole sauce option, I’m all over it. The GlenAllachie 12 is just lovely all around and deserves my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.