The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch #1 Review

GlendronachWhisky Reviews

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2014 is here; the New Year has rung in and it definitely brought winter along with it. Temperatures across the US have been hitting record lows, and while it’s getting slightly “warmer” here on the east coast (better than zero degrees that is), it is still plenty chilly outside. Makes me wish I had a nice wood stove to relax with. I guess I’ll just have to rely on wonderful “winter warmers” such as this GlenDronach to help do the trick. Some relaxing music, my computer and a nice cask strength dram is the cure for any winter Sunday.

Before the BenRiach distillery acquired GlenDronach in 2008 it was in the hands of the French giant Pernod Ricard, the same company who owns the Aberlour distillery. Unfortunately GlenDronach was never a real focus for the company, but it had done well in previous years nonetheless. Aberlour of course is quite a classic Speyside distillery, and although France is its primary market of focus, it’s grown quite popular around the globe due to the batched Cask Strength expression known as A’Bunadh. Like A’Bunadh, the GlenDronach Cask Strength is a batch released sherried monster. Somewhere around 50 percent of GlenDronach stocks are still sold to Pernod Ricard for their blended whiskies.

The GlenDronach distillery is of course a Highland distillery, not a Speyside. There’s no doubt it’s reminiscent of one, though. I’m sure if I were to taste nearly any of the GlenDronach expressions blindly I’d more than likely pin them in the Speyside region. GlenDronach’s opulent flavors and texture comes from the distillery’s slow distillation process, which includes very little reflux. I’ve grown to become a very big fan of this distillery, and if you’ve tried a few of their malts I’m sure you know why that is.

So far I’ve shared tastings of the 15-year-old Revival and 21-year-old Parliament. Aged in a combination of PX and Oloroso ex-Sherry casks, The GlenDronach Cask Strength is released in somewhat limited quantities, although there have been more bottles of recent batches to go around. Only 12,000 bottles of Batch 1 were released. Let’s see how it holds up.

Price:  Approx $75/750ml
ABV:  54.8% – Cask Strength / Non Chill-Filtered / Natural Color

Color:  Amber
Nose:  Quite rich with dark and dry aromas of seasoned oak, spearmint and tarragon
tea, tobacco, leather and candied ginger. With that come luscious hints of sweet spices, dried fruits and citrus peel – raisins, fig, nutmeg, prunes and apple peel all baked together with some mixed nuts and a little chocolate. Perhaps I could just say homemade trail mix and leave it at that 😉
Palate:  Comes in full force with a wonderful sherried sweetness of dark, dried fruits, but there are also all of these pleasant spiced berries and apple slices as well. The spices carry straight into the finish and bring along some herbal qualities that show around mid-palate along with rich toffee, again candied ginger, mandarins and hints of cocoa.
Finish:  Long, warming and full of spiced walnuts, dried fruits and tangy citrus.

I absolutely love these GlenDronachs. Although bottled at cask strength, it’s not as rich as some of its other older siblings, but it’s complex, full of great flavor and a great value nonetheless. The great thing about the other members of the family, other than also being non chill-filtered, is that they’re bottled at a generous 46% ABV. As for the Cask Strength, it’s definitely worth grabbing a bottle at this price. Lovely.

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