GlenDronach 2002 Single Cask 10yrs

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Distillery/Brand: GlenDronach | Region: Speyside | ABV: 55.6% | Colour: Copper
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Review
I’m not a huge fan of the Glendronach’s standard bottles. I’ve had the opportunity to taste the 12, 15 Revival, the 18 Allardice and the 21 Parliament. I feel that the sherry is far too big in them. All four of these have seen a lot of Oloroso along their way with the 12 and 21 seeing some PX too.

For those who read my reviews know that I’m not a huge fan of sherry overkill, especially Oloroso.

Though, I must admit, one fine evening at Baxters, in Sydney, I had the great fortune of tasting the 31 Year old Grandeur Batch 001 which is truly a masterclass of a whisky. When sherry is done right it is the most gorgeous thing in the world. Else, a nagging annoyance.

Which brings me to the Glendronachs where sherry has been done right. Their Cask Strength series, up to Batch 4 now, is quite a revelation. And, I now realize, so might be there Single Cask (Cask Strength) offerings.

The one in my glass is 10 years old and matured exclusively in a PX Puncheon (though, I couldn’t find any information on whether the cask was first-fill or second). If I was to hazard a guess I would go with second.

My sample is from a brand new bottle, distilled on July 3, 2002 and bottled in May 2013 from Cask #1988 and served at a cask strength of 55.6% (by the way if they had waited a couple of months they could have bottled it as an eleven year old but I guess they didn’t feel like making the extra 20 quid).

Nose: Milk chocolate. Dark chocolate. Quite dry. Fresh leather. Pine combs. Raisins. Figs. Liquorice. Digestives. Dark jam. Vanilla. Add a touch of water and it opens to a more fortified wine. Demerara sugar. Daiquiri. I really like the nose. Big. Bold. Beautiful. No relation to the American soap of the same name. 23/25

Palate: Super creamy. Dry spice rub. Ground red chili chocolate. Dates. Cinnamon. Oak. Cigar smoke. Figs. Raisins. Hint of chalk. Adding water makes it sweeter. Less oaky. Now more purple fruits than before. Now with clove. Cumin. I find this one equally good with or without water. 23/25

Finish: Long. Leather. Oak. Cinnamon. Quite dry. A touch rough perhaps. Not much change with the addition of water. 23/25

Overall Comments: I’ve realized why I prefer some sherry bombs compared to others. It’s the alcohol strength. Anything less than 52% shifts the balance in favor of the sherry whereas the higher strength brings the original spirit and the sherry influence closer to a more harmonious offering.

Rating: 92

GlenDronach 21 Year Old Parliament

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Distillery/Brand: GlenDronach | Region: Speyside | ABV: 48% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 20 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 85

Review
I’m a huge fan of the Glendronach Cask Strength series. Wonderfully sherried whiskies that pack a punch without being too overly sherried, if you know what I mean.

If you’ve been reading my reviews you know I am dead against over maturation of good distillate. It always feels like someones’ trying to hide something. Of course, that need not always be the case.

There are some folks that like their whiskies this way. Sherry bombs they are called, if memory serves me right. I think sherry bombs are a tricky business and walk an oft teetering line between whisky and WTF? Mostly I’ve realized it’s WTF.

Fortunately for me this whisky just about manages to walk that line. It’s not as marvellously balanced as other good sherry bombs I’ve had but I think it manages to keep it’s dignity intact.
Matured in both Oloroso and PX casks this is as sherry as it gets.

What’s interesting about this review is that I managed to conduct a little experiment (which I saw Ralfy do in his review of the same) and came up with a surprisingly positive result.

One sample I tasted like I normally do. Neat. The other, in order to mellow out the sherry, I covered for 40 minutes after adding a splash of water.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 48%

Nose (22/25): Very strong sherry. Dark chocolate. Cocoa beans. Dark rum. Nuts. Almonds. Walnuts. Spicy oaks. Let it air and it settles down nicely. Becomes more crisp. More sweeter. More brown sugar. Muscovado sugar. There’s a hint of sourness. Cold cuts. Dark jam. Honey. Toast. Quite a typical Oloroso nose with some complexity thrown in thanks to the PX.

Palate (20/25): Dark honey. Chocolate fudge. Fruit cake. Cinnamon. Very bold. Almost over the top. Treacle. Dates. Licorice. Lots and lots of tannins. Molasses. Overly sweet, far too big. It’s not bad but it’s just too loud.

Finish (21/25): Better. Extremely long. Oily. Cigar leaf. Touch of oak. Something bitter.

Overall a decent dram if not a bit overly thick and sweet.

___

With a splash of water and left covered for 40 minutes

Nose: Mellowed out quite a bit. Now vanilla. Delicate rose water. Pistachios.

Palate: Much smoother. More balanced. Touch more spice. Coca Cola.

Finish: Chocolate. Oak

Overall Comments: I feel the 40 minutes with water really brought out the more delicate flavors of the whisky. The sherry was cut through quite nicely and I could taste more of the base distillate if you like.
I would rate this one an additional 2 or 3 points higher with water.

While it did not turn water into wine there certainly was something to this exercise. An average dram made good. And I think that’s quite a nifty little trick.

Thanks Ralfy.

Rating: 85

Glendronach 15 Year Revival Sherry Cask

Glendronach 15

Distillery/Brand: GlenDronach | Region: Speyside | ABV: 46% | Color: Young Sauternes

Nose: 21 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 86

Review
Glendronach seem to have a cult following. I follow their page on Facebook and can see the intensity and the passion that the fans have for it. And I think that’s fair. It is a wonderful distillery with some very special releases. Their single casks are a stuff of legend, though, I feel that their core range could do with a bit of a lift.

This 15 year old sherry bomb has quite a reputation and even before I started writing anything about it I posted a pic of it on the Malt Maniacs Facebook page. The response was immediate and quite flattering.

But do I think this one is the stuff of legends? Well, not really.

Nose: I think I can sniff out the Oloroso Sherry cask from a mile away. It is so strong and meaty that there can be no doubt. Once the black salts fade away you are greeted with a black pepper rum and fudge cake liberally sprinkled with chopped pistachios and cardamom seeds. Oxidization brings out red wine tannins and black raisins. I think the Oloroso overpowers and doesn’t let the malt speak.

Palate: Chocolate and mocha form the base of this delivery. They are then layered with black peppercorns, cinnamon and cardamom pods. Once again quite thick and chewy with the Oloroso.

Finish: Creamy long with cinnamon.

I like this whisky but I think the sherry is far too overbearing in all aspects. I would have liked to see a more measured sherry finish because I feel the base malt is quite good. But maybe that’s what the people want. And I’ve seen enough fans to prove that.

Oh well…

Rating: 86

Glendronach Cask Strength – Batch No. 1

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Distillery/Brand: GlenDronach
Region: Speyside
ABV: 54.8%
Colour: Old Sauternes

Nose: 24
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
I am increasingly impressed by the expressions this distillery produces and this one is no exception. This cask strength Oloroso and PX matured dram is an absolute beauty.

The powerful nose is as heady as it is delicious. The glorious oak envelopes a thick slice of nutty orange fudge sprinkled with a generous layer of raisins and smothered in caramel. This is finished off with a gentle drizzle of grated ginger.

The palate is not for the faint hearted. The underlying oak sits in complete balance with burnt citrus which is mixed with a rich dark chocolate and and equally dark fruits. All this is served with a dollop of marmalade infused with clove and cinnamon.

The long and oily finish is woody with a touch of clove and stays with you for ever.

So good!

Rating: 93

Glendronach 12 Sherry Wood

NewImageDistiller:
GlenDronach

Region:
Speyside

ABV:
43%

Colour:
Deep Sherry

Nose: 21
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review:
I decided to crack this one open late at night after an evening out with some friends. And it looks like I made a super choice!

It has an unusual nose for a sherry finish. Mostly like sitting in a dank warehouse surrounded by mounds and mounds of moist sugar. The sherry brings out the dark autumn fruits like plums. This is accompanied by raisins. Then there’s something nutty in there and finally a second stronger sniff reminds me of some kind of wood varnish.

While I think the nose may need a bit of work the palate is a work of art! It’s spicy, it’s sugary, it’s caramely and all other sorts of misspelled sweet adjectives. Once again the dark autumn fruits jump in and start to make an impact while the spices, strong at first, mellow out and give this malt just the balance it needs.

A nice 43% finish which is dry, woody and full of liquorish, aniseed and plums. There is also an undercurrent of a bubbling meat stew which adds to the complexity!

Not sure how many people know about this expression but they should!

Rating : 90

Glendronach 18 Year old Allardice Sherry Cask

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Distiller:
GlenDronach

Region:
Speyside

ABV:
46%

Colour:
Old Gold

Review:
This expression had been on my radar for a while but I never got around to acquiring it for my self so I was quite excited when a friend of mine popped it out one night over at his place.

Being partial to anything with sherry I quite eagerly went in for my first nose. The smell is autumn. All around me are scattered dry leaves gently rustling in the wind. As I go foraging through ankle deep foliage I find sweet bananas and dark berries glistening with a sherry coat. I look up and nestled in the branches of a dry oak tree is a wooden box filled with dark chocolates and butterscotch. As I look down I see in my hands a bowl of fudge sprinkled with fruits while all around me is the smell of dry oak trees.

My only problem with this picture is that everything is just a little bit dull.

I tipped the glass back expecting a sugar rush of sherry and dark berries and I wasn’t wrong. But before I could get my head around the initial flavors the dry oak kicked in and arrested what was going to be a great first impression. As I pressed on I began to detect bits of dark chocolate, citrus and walnuts in the mix. Unfortunately, though, as I tried to savor the new flavors my journey was abruptly ended with the bold arrival of cinnamon spices.

I think this expression has all the necessary flavors to deliver something remarkable. However, they are not in the right proportion. Much too dry and a little too spicy for my liking.

Rating : 83