One of my favorite Highland Scotch distilleries is The GlenDronach. The distillery exploits fine sherry casks to age its newmake and create something normally 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.
In 1976, Teachers was 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, while Billy Walker went to The GlenAllachie.
One of the most recent decisions made by The GlenDronach was to introduce chill filtration to its whiskies. This change was controversial among fans of the brand. I simply care about how the whisky tastes, and, as I stated earlier, this is one of my favorite Highland distilleries.
Today I’m exploring The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 11 single malt Scotch. While it carries no age statement, it is bottled at 59.8% ABV (119.6°). It is naturally colored, and as it is cask strength, it was not chill-filtered. It is priced at $100.00 and widely available across the United States.
“This eleventh batch of The GlenDronach Cask Strength embodies The GlenDronach‘s celebrated style of Spanish Oak maturation in fine Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucía. Add a drop or two of water to this latest expression to reveal a cornucopia of flavor - from richly spiced bramble wine and treacle toffee, to lingering Seville orange peel and nutmeg layered with caramel and maraschino cherry.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender
Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I’m grateful to The GlenDronach for sending me a sample of this whisky in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it.
Appearance: I sipped this whisky neat in my Glencairn glass. The reddish-brown liquid produced a thick rim that stuck like glue. Tiny droplets formed that seemed less than excited to go anywhere.
Nose: I brought the glass to my face and smiled as aromas of honeycomb, plum, cherry, orange peel, vanilla, and almond wafted out the neck. I opened my mouth and inhaled the vapor, producing a dried cranberry taste.
Palate: The texture was syrupy. A combination of orange and dried cranberry met the front of my palate. More fruit, this time dried cherry, blackberry, and raisin, created the middle. The back offered dark chocolate, English toffee, and dry leather.
Finish: Long and warming, the finish included dry leather, dark chocolate, dried cherry, raisin, and wood tannin.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Earlier, Dr. Barrie suggested adding a drop or two of water. I’m pretty Type-A about adding water, and I used an eyedropper to add two (and only two) drops of distilled water.
The smell of caramel exploded from the glass, followed by almond and milk chocolate. In other words, it smelled like a Milky Way candy bar. The texture thinned from syrupy to creamy. My palate found maraschino cherries, strawberries, macadamia nuts, nutmeg, and cocoa powder. The tannins were magnified. It was tasty, but I did prefer this whisky neat.
Cask Strength Batch 11 drank slightly higher than its stated proof. My head spun a bit, albeit I was so enamored by the flavors that I wasn’t shy about sipping. You’ll not even remember it lacks an age statement. You’ll just be happy you purchased a Bottle. 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.