Showing posts with label The GlenDronach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The GlenDronach. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 11 Single Malt Scotch Whisky 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 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.



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.



Friday, June 24, 2022

The GlenDronach Cask Cask Strength Batch 10 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

One of Scotland’s oldest legal distilleries is in the Valley of the Forgue. In 1826, The GlenDronach was founded by James Allardice,  and about 45 years later, it was the largest duty-paying distillery in the Scottish Highlands. Fast-forward to 1996, and The GlenDroanch was mothballed until 2002.


The GlenDronach was one of the last distilleries to utilize coal-fired stills, and in 2005, it was converted to steam heating. Then, in 2016, Brown-Forman purchased the distillery, along with Glenglassaugh and BenRiach, forming the company’s Scotch whisky footprint.


The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 10 is a Highland Single Malt aged in both Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement. You’ll find a 750ml package for about $99.99 and available across the United States.


“The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 10 is incredibly rich and full-bodied with the full depth of sherry cask maturation at its heart. Presented at natural cask strength, it offers a cornucopia of flavor, from richly spiced fruitcake to dark cherry and ginger jam. The limited release showcases the distillery’s crafting the most exceptional, richly sherried Single Malts, representative of The GlenDronach’s rare dedication to its craft, embodied in every expression.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender


I’m ready to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I thank The GlenDronach for a sample of this Scotch in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Highland Scotch presented as burnt umber. A medium-weight rim created no legs; instead, it was tiny droplets glued to the wall.


Nose: Have you ever had an excellent rum-soaked fruitcake? Not the garbage passed around from family member to family member as if it was a white elephant gift, but the stuff you fight over and eat immediately. My memory was triggered as I smelled what was inside the glass. I also found apricot, citrus, nougat, and leather. When I drew the air past my lips, the rummy part of the fruitcake was more pronounced.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was silky and full-bodied. Raisin, cherry, and peach exploded in the front of my mouth, while roasted almond, orange peel, and mocha formed the middle. The back offered old leather, oak tannin, and ginger.


Finish:  My mind did a double-take at this point. Wasn’t this over 117°? You’d never know it because there was no burn in my mouth or throat whatsoever. Instead, there was a caress of raisin, cherry, honey, ginger, and oak. It was lengthy and left me with a smile.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Sure, there’s no age statement, but who cares? This is a cask-strength sherry bomb of a Scotch that is affordable, approachable, and amazing. Nothing would cause me to second guess buying a Bottle. It would be well worth it. 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, April 13, 2022

The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 Single Malt Scotch Reviews

It isn’t often that I get to sip older Scotch whiskies. When I do, it is usually due to the generosity of friends who, like all good whisky ambassadors, believe that whisky is meant for sharing, and they make that happen.


Once a year, The GlenDronach rolls out a batch of its Scotches referred to as The Cask Bottlings. These aren’t your average Highland whiskies; instead, these tend to fall into the ancient category. They’re all single malts, naturally colored and non-chill filtered, and the distillery is renowned for its use of high-quality Spanish sherry casks in the aging process. The 2022 release is referred to as Batch 19.


“The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 offers an insight into our sherry cask maturation history and the exceptional quality of the casks we have at The GlenDronach. I have personally chosen these casks to celebrate and share the very best of the distillery’s character. Each represents the rich selection of barrels, Hogsheads, Puncheons and Butts that have been used throughout The GlenDronach’s history. This release reflects our enduring commitment to crafting the most exceptional, richly sherried Single Malts representative of The GlenDronach’s rare dedication to its craft, embodied in every expression.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender


Batch 19 consists of three different casks:  Cask 5080 (1994), Cask 6052 (1992), and Cask 217 (1992). 


I want to thank The GlenDronach for providing me samples of the three in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


First up is Cask 5080. Aged 27 years, this single malt Scotch rested in a former Oloroso sherry puncheon. It yielded 667 bottles packaged at 54.3% ABV (108.6°). While you’ll find this on some store shelves in AZ, CO, DE, DC, IL, FL, MD, MN, MD, NV, and SC, you should expect to spend at least $600.00.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask 5080 looked like burnt umber. A medium-thick rim formed long, wide legs.


Nose: A fruity aroma of fig, raisin, date, cranberry, and vanilla cream started the journey. It was joined by toasted walnut, and when I drew the vapor into my mouth, a wave of cherry vanilla caressed my tongue.


Palate: The silky texture featured fig, black cherry, and caramel on the front of my palate, while sweet pipe tobacco, orange zest, and cherry cola were on the middle. The back offered old oak, clove, and dark chocolate.


Finish:  Pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, fig, clove, and dry oak remained for a long, lingering finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask 5080 is, in a word, stunning. The nose was enticing, the mouthfeel rich, and the combination of flavors complimented one another as if they were designed to do so. I can’t help but give it a Bottle rating.

Adding another year, the next Scotch is Cask 6052. I’m assuming it aged a few months shy of 28 years in a former Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon. There are 658 bottles available at 50.8% ABV (101.6°), and the suggested retail is $720.00.  Availability is limited to CA, ID, IN, KY, LA, NM, NC, ND, NE, MT, OH, OK, OR, TX, UT, WA, and WY.


Appearance: A deep, caramel color filled my Glencairn glass. It took an effort to create an ultra-thin rim. It generated sticky legs that crawled back to the pool of whisky.


Nose: I found cherry, plum, fig, strawberry, and red grape entwined with dark chocolate and oak. English toffee rolled across my tongue when I inhaled through my lips.


Palate: A medium-weight, silky mouthfeel released flavors of sweet vanilla, orange, and apricot on the front of my palate. Espresso and tobacco leaf fell on the middle, while dark chocolate, oak, and a kiss of caramel were on the back.


Finish: French oak, dark chocolate, and espresso remained for a long, steady finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While the nose was fruity, the palate was far less so. The spice notes dominated. I frankly didn’t expect that from a PX cask – the sweeter notes were anticipated. I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t enjoy Cask 6052; I was merely caught off-guard. Age allowed the spiciness to be mellow, keeping it from becoming a punch. I can see this whisky being particularly attractive to fans of mature American rye whiskeys (and I fall into that category). A Bottle rating is warranted.  

The final whisky is the oldest: Cask 217. It spent a whopping 29 years in an Oloroso sherry butt. Only 383 bottles were filled, and as you can imagine, its distribution is much smaller. GA, MA, NY, and NJ were the handful that can sell it for the suggested $820.00 price. You’re getting 55.4% ABV (110.8°) for that investment.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask 217 looked like maple syrup. Not the artificial stuff you buy at the grocery store, but real syrup from places like Vermont. The thick rim made husky legs.


Nose:  A bouquet of plum, raisin, leather, and fudge tickled my olfactory sense. Plum plowed through as I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate: Whereas the previous two whiskies had silky textures, Cask 217 was oily. The uncomplicated palate started with dark chocolate and nutmeg on the front. The middle featured rum raisin and black cherry. The back was an interesting blend of leather, oak, and fresh ginger.


Finish:  Remember the fudge from the nose? That came out from nowhere like an angry bull let loose for San Fermin. There were oak tannins, nutmeg, old leather, and cherry mixed with that fudge.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciate how simple the palate of this Scotch was. That finish was mind-blowing. I happily convey a Bottle rating for the finish alone.


Final Thoughts:  For the three whiskies of Batch 19, my recommendations purposefully ignored price. Why? Because I don’t purchase whiskies in this price range. That doesn’t mean you (or someone you know) don’t. Experiencing something the caliber of Batch 19 is a rare opportunity, and the only thing I took into account were the aromas, flavors, and finish.


Of the three, my favorite pour was Cask 5080, which happened to be the youngest. The second was the elderly Cask 217, and the third was, of course, Cask 6052. 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, December 29, 2021

The GlenDronach Original Aged 12 Years Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


There is something to be said about whisky from one of the oldest-licensed distilleries in Scotland. It is difficult to suggest it doesn't know what it is doing. There is something to be said about a distillery specializing in one niche of cooperage since 1826. Again, it isn't easy to say it wouldn't have some expertise in the matter. 

That distillery is The GlenDronach. In 1868, it was the largest duty-paying distillery in the Scottish Highlands. It operated continuously until 1996, when it was mothballed, only to be resurrected six years later. It was one of the last distilleries to utilize coal-fed fire to heat its stills. In 2005, it converted to steam-heat.

"We are renowned as the masters of sherry cask maturation, and our Highland whiskies are recognised for their deep colour and rich flavour profiles, which range from sweet fruity flavours, from the Pedro Ximenez casks we select, to the dry and nutty notes, from superb Oloroso casks. Our well-kept secrets have been guarded for nearly 200 years by a parliament of rooks who love The GlenDronach so much they try to nest in the warehouses. The distillery folk believe as long as the rooks remain at the distillery, it will be good for the whisky." - The GlenDronach

Its Master Blender is Dr. Rachel Barrie. She also serves as Master Blender at The BenRiach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. 

The GlenDronach's basic, core Scotch is called Original Aged 12 Years. It is a single-malt that's been aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. There is no artificial coloring added. Bottled at 43% ABV (that's 86°), the suggested retail is $62.99.

The GlenDronach is an unpeated Scotch, so this could be appealing if smoky isn't your jam. 

I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing a sample of The Original Aged 12 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and discover if this core whisky is worth picking up.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch offered the color of deep gold with a slight red tinge. A medium rim formed, which led to an exciting marriage of thick, fast legs and sticky droplets.

Nose:  As soon as I poured it into my glass, the air filled with fruity aromas. I could nail down raisin, plum, apple, and pear, but an unmistakable fragrance of honey mingled with the fruit. When I drew the vapor into my lips, more fruit, this time apricot, waltzed across my tongue. 

Palate:  As the whisky rolled past my lips, my mouth was greeted by an oily mouthfeel with a medium-weighted body. Ginger stood in tandem with green grape and orange peel on the front. The middle was simple, consisting of malt and dark chocolate. Flavors of leather, sweet tobacco, and oak were on the back.

Finish:  A medium-long, peppery finish added raisin, leather, and oak, which seemed to compliment the palate.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Overall, I've been impressed with The GlenDronach's whiskeys. This was my first experience with its base product. I loved the nose, the palate, and the finish. There was a complete absence of anything remotely astringent (Band-aid taste), and that's a net positive for me. Frankly, for $62.99, I believe Original Aged 12 Years is a bargain and definitely earns my 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 that you do so responsibly.

Friday, March 12, 2021

The GlenDronach 18th Batch Cask Bottling Reviews & Tasting Notes


I've come to respect Dr. Rachel Barrie. She's the Master Blender of The GlenDronach, The BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh distilleries. I've been blessed with some amazing opportunities to taste selections from the first two - I've yet to try the latter. Regardless, Dr. Barrie has proven to me she knows what she is doing and doesn't fool around when it comes to whisky.

The GlenDronach is a distillery in Scottland's Highland region. Established in 1826, it is one of the oldest licensed distilleries. The distillery concentrates heavily on aging its whiskies in former sherry casks as well as craft casks.

The most recent release is their Cask Bottling Series, called The 18th Batch. The release is comprised of eighteen casks selected by Dr. Barrie for their unique character and representations of what the distillery has to offer. Four of those casks have been released in the United States:  2008 Cask #3017, aged 12 years, 2005 Cask #1928, aged 14 years, 1994 Cask #5287, aged 26 years, and 1993 Cask #7102, aged 27 years.

The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 18 is a celebration of the distillery’s time-honored mastery and a showcase of the finest of what this richly-sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky has to offer.

This long-standing, much-loved release is a focal point to each year, demonstrating the exquisite character of our whiskies, through these exceptional casks which I have carefully hand-selected. Each cask individually explores the sophistication, powerful intricacy, and rich layers of Spanish sherry cask maturation found in every expression of The GlenDronach." - Dr. Barrie

The four are all naturally-colored and non-chill filtered. I've had a chance to try each, and am combining them into a single, four-part review. Before I get started, I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing the samples in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious.

2008 Cask #3017

This single malt has been aged 12 years in a former Oloroso sherry cask, filled in the late summer to take advantage of the peak interaction of the newmake and sherry.  It is bottled at 59.8% ABV (119.6°). There was a yield of 628 bottles with a suggested retail price of $120.00.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, 1994 presented as a golden amber color. It offered a thinner rim, but thick, slow legs that fell back to the pool. 

Nose:  Aromas of raisin, nutmeg, caramel, and nuts were easy to pick out. Beneath those were plum and dark chocolate. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, sherry notes were evident.

Palate:  Full-bodied and oily, I tasted thick honey, orange marmalade, and raisin on the front. At mid-palate, I discovered a blend of nutmeg and chocolate. On the back, the chocolate continued and was joined with fig and oak.

Finish:  Long, sweet, and dry, the finish consisted of mint, raisin, candied orange slices, fig, oak, and dry sherry.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  For about $120, we're scratching the ceiling of 12-year Scotch. But, not when you take into account the proof. Sherry notes abound, Cask #3017 does nothing to mask it and, in fact, shines a spotlight on it. Folks that crave sherry-bombs are going to drool. Folks who are new to Highland Scotch might as well.  I left happy, and this snags my Bottle rating.

2005 Cask #1928

Aged 14 years in a former Pedro Ximénex cask before being dumped and bottled, Dr. Barrie suggests the PX sherry influences both the light and dark aspects of the whisky. Packaged at 58% ABV (116°), there are 612 bottles available for about $150.00 each.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this single-malt had the color of golden honey. It formed a medium-thick rim with sticky drops. Those eventually gave way to heavy, slow legs.

Nose:  As if there was a theme, honey was the first thing picked up by my nose. The smells of blackberry, cinnamon, raisin, dried cherry, ginger, and dark chocolate were unmistakable. When I inhaled through my lips, black cherry rolled across my tongue.

Palate:  Despite the only two-year difference between this and the 2008 cask, the mouthfeel was incredibly thick.  On the front, flavors of cherry, plum, and molasses hit hard. The middle was milder with raisin, honey, and mint. Then, on the back, blackberry danced with dark chocolate and vanilla cream.

Finish:  Long and dry, Cask #1928 featured oak, dark chocolate, mint, raisin, and cherry.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  PX sherry cask Scotch is generally easy to appreciate as it is big on sweet fruits.  Cask #1928 goes a step beyond that with its finish, adding a whole new dimension to what's expected. I was shocked at how easy this was to sip despite its high ABV.  Dry did not equal burn. Priced fairly for its age and proof, I find no barricade for a Bottle recommendation.

1994 Cask #5287

This cask was a former Ruby Port pipe sourced from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. 1994 was a small distillation year for The GlenDronach, making this cask even more limited. Only 638 bottles are available at 51.3% ABV (102.6°), with a suggested retail of $415.00.

Appearance:  Presenting as the color of golden chestnut, the rim was broad with slow, plump legs that crawled back to the whisky. 

Nose:  The Port wine influence was indisputable. Plum and cherry jam blended with coffee, truffle, and molasses. Beneath those was butterscotch.  When I pulled the fumes across my palate, the earthy notes of truffle continued.

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thick, jammy, and luxurious. On the front, I tasted cherry, raisin, and plum. The middle offered dark chocolate, caramel, and roasted walnuts. Then, on the back, flavors of coffee, truffles, and dry oak rounded things out.

Finish:  If you like freight-train finishes, this doesn't disappoint. Several minutes afterward, it kept chugging along. There were earthy truffles, smoky oak, deep, dark chocolate, and nuts.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  One of the cool things is when a whisky doesn't give you a chance to forget about it. The finish never ends. There's no getting distracted and struggling to recall what you've poured. Cask #5287 is like a Vulcan mind-meld. You're stuck with it. Thankfully, it is delicious. The palate wasn't overly complicated which, again, allowed me to relish this whisky. It scores a Bottle rating. 

1993 Cask #7102

Aged for a whopping 27 years in an Oloroso sherry cask, this single malt is the obvious oldest of the bunch. At 51.4% ABV (102.8°), there is a premium for the additional year - it will set you back about $600.00. There are only 633 bottles produced.

Appearance:  After forming a very heavy rim on my Glencairn glass, husky legs raced back to the whiskey.  The color was deep and dark, almost like maple syrup.

Nose:  There was so much that went on here. Molasses, chocolate-covered cherries, cinnamon, ginger, strawberry jam, orange marmalade, raisin, and spiced rum... have you ever had a good fruitcake? That's what came to mind as I got lost in the aroma. I also encountered berry cobbler. When I breathed in through my mouth, orange marmalade and plum tangoed across the palate.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was full-bodied and weighty. Date, molasses, and honey mead hit the front. The middle ponied up dark chocolate, black cherry, and raisin. On the back, I tasted oak, dark chocolate, and honey.

Finish:  The finish simply would not quit. Dark chocolate, date, dry oak, black cherry, and spiced plum stuck around with smoke intermingling between each sensation. By smoke, I want to be clear this was not peat.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'll be frank. There is absolutely nothing not to like about Cask #7102. Flavors were bold but didn't trample over one another. I fell in love with the mouthfeel, and, oh, that nose! This one's just a fantastic, beautiful whisky that I can't say enough good things about, earning it a Bottle recommendation.

Final Thoughts:  While all four were special, I believe the two stand-outs were the 2005 and 1993 casks. The two youngest casks I considered value against what I was tasting. But, once you start getting into the 26- and 27-year Scotches, the prices get steep, but remember, you're also paying for something that is rare. This helped me get past my usual value statement that I do with most others and it became less of a consideration.

None of these whiskies are peated, and none had that astringent (Band-Aid) quality that some folks find unappealing. Despite their higher proofs, they were all easy sippers and while I tried them with water to satisfy my curiosity, it wasn't necessary and my tasting notes are based on all-neat pours.

I'm not sure where you could go wrong with any of the four, but my order top to bottom would be 1993, 2005, 1994, then 2008.  Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Monday, November 16, 2020

The GlenDronach Port Wood Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


These days several distilleries are finishing whiskey in port casks. Finishing is fine in practice, and I'm generally a fan - not just when a former port cask is used, but most types of finishing. I enjoy seeing (rather, tasting) how whiskey can be changed by having it rest for a few months in a different cask. It is fun to taste the original and the finished whiskeys side-by-side.

Today I'm reviewing Port Wood by The GlenDronach. Port Wood is a single malt from Scotland's Highland region. It started as a tribute to the 19th century when Scotland was importing casked port wine. Port is a fortified wine, meaning it is blended with a portion of distilled spirit, usually brandy. It comes from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. It has a rather high ABV content, 20% or more, versus non-fortified wine, which ranges between 9% and 15%. Port is typically aged in very large casks, called pipes, that are 600 liters (about 127 US gallons). 

But, Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender of The GlenDronach, wanted to do something different. Instead of merely finishing Scotch in port pipes, she went for the full monty and aged the whiskey in the pipes. That was blended with Scotches aged in Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks. To be clear, all three types were aged singly and, once matured, married. Oloroso is typically a dry sherry, offering nutty flavors. PX sherry, on the other hand, is made from sun-dried grapes and is normally thick and sweet. The pipes Barrie used formerly held both tawny and ruby ports. Tawny will often be aged long-term, whereas ruby would characteristically spend two years or less in wood. 

And now, we cycle back to Port Wood. The 2020 release carries no age statement (versus the previous release having a ten-year). It is made from 100% malted barley and after aging, it retains its natural color and is unfiltered. Packaged at 46% ABV (or 92°), you can expect to pay about $89.00 for a 750ml bottle. It shouldn't be overly difficult to locate as it enjoys nationwide US distribution.

Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing me a sample of Port Wood in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious!

Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Port Wood presented as a rich, orange amber. It created a thicker rim and left sticky, fat legs on the wall of my glass. Those took their time to crawl back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose: A commanding aroma of plum hit my nostrils first. Once I got used to it, raisin, cherry, and strawberry kept the fruit theme going, which then surrendered to honey and, finally, chocolate. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, I found raisin and ginger.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was initially thin, but quickly became buttery and coating. Black cherry and milk chocolate caressed the front of my palate.  As it moved to the middle, flavors of plum and blackberry joined with cocoa powder and orange peel. Then, on the back, I tasted red grape, date, and dry oak.

Finish: I found the finish to be warm and long-lasting, with more of that dry oak, ginger, cocoa powder, orange peel, and plum. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I've tasted several expressions of The GlenDronach this year, and this one is my favorite of the affordable choices (it isn't the Kingsman, but it also isn't $1300 a bottle). Port Wood is complex enough that I had to concentrate on what was going on, otherwise, I feared I'd miss something. Conversely, if I was just sipping on my deck, I believe I could relax and lose myself in the moment. There really is nothing not to like, including the price. Do the math and that's the equation of a Bottle recommendation. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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