As you might have heard, Billy Walker sold Glendronach (Benriach and Glenglassaugh included) to the beverage giant Brown-Forman earlier this year. I find this quite sad, considering how he managed to elevate these distilleries to a new level. We can only hope that the new owners will not change too much in the way of production. Billy will, of course, not sit around twiddling his thumbs. In June he acquired Glenallachie from Chivas Brothers and I hope to see some promising Whisky flowing out of that distillery soon. Business aside. I have three Whiskies here from said Glendronach Distillery while Billy was still in charge: The 15 year old “Revival”, the 18 year old “Allardice” and Batch No.5 of the Cask Strength version.
Glendronach 15 Revival, 46% vol. 2015
S:6 G:4 P:1 / Color: amber / Score: 90
An elegant sherried start on raisins, dried apricots, figs and dates. Also a nice touch of wood spice from a good cask. I find some shortbread and toffee as well, some menthol and a whiff of balsamic vinegar. The taste is sweet and gets drier after a bit, displays a wonderful consistency which is creamy and full. Here too the premium casks show how important they are, well integrated and supporting the distillate with cinnamon, cloves and the whole “Christmas cake” works. Wet leaves in autumn are to be found as well. It feels like a classic Whisky and this gets backed up by the lovely aftertaste of a traditional dunnage warehouse. No need to say this is one of my favourite Whiskies to date. Marvellous. The “Revival” has not been available since 2015 much to the regret of many a Whisky lover. But it was said to return in 2018. We’ll see how Brown-Forman feels about that;)
Glendronach 18 Allardice, 46% vol., 2016
S:7 G:4 P:1 / Color: amber / Score: 89
Noses sweeter an more dense than the 15 but it is distinctly sherried as well. More on dried plums, raisins and home made berry jam. Again you can smell the casks (they where great if you where wondering). Interestingly I can smell a little sea spray, or maybe it’s some salty stock… Sweet and dense arrival with dark chocolate and marzipan, dark malt bread and a few bitter oranges. Make that bitter orange marmalade, please. The few more years in the cask have made quite a difference. A great dram but I prefer the younger version. The earthy notes from a proper warehouse reappear and complete the experience with a happy ending. By this while it lasts. Hint, Hint…
Glendronach CS Batch No. 5, 55.3% vol., 2016
S:5 G:4 P:1 Color: gold / Score: 82
This on starts on Grandmas stock, a little briny. Then come the Sherry guardians: dried figs and raisins. Quite a bit of oak on the nose, also some fruit chutney. Not the most complex of noses but quite nice. Powerful sweet arrival but also dries quickly. The oak is kicking about and doesn’t want to calm down. When swirling this around the mouth for a bit it becomes quite chewy. That is something I love in Whiskies. Also some canned peaches with honey develop. Not really in the same league as his older siblings, feels a little doctored. Nonetheless a fine tipple.