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.