Review: GlenDronach 12, 15, and 18 Years Old (2010)
The GlenDronach distillery in the Scottish Highlands had been dark for years, but the Scotch boom of the 1990s led to it being restarted in 2002 in order to take obvious advantage of the trend. Now part of the Chivas empire, the distillery’s first new-era products are now live, with 12, 15, and 18 Year Old bottlings just now hitting the market. (I’m not entirely clear how a distillery that began operating again eight years ago can have an 18 year old single malt whisky, but I’ll let someone from the distillery chime in on that one.)
Here are some thoughts on the three big new releases you’ll be seeing soon.
GlenDronach Original 12 Years Old (2010) – Amazing sweetness, with a big sherry kick. Lots of honey and nougat, with a rich body and just a touch of smoke in there to keep things interesting. The finish is long but bracing with sugar, which may play down any nuance in this malt. 86 proof. A- / $50
GlenDronach Revival 15 Years Old (2010) – Much darker in color than the 12 year old, with a considerably different flavor profile, too — loaded with sherried wood character, and much more richness. That adds more citrus, too, and the sweetness is played down. It’s also quite a bit hotter, with more bite. Yes, it’s 92 proof, but that burn is more about those oily, sherry-heavy wood overtones than the extra alcohol. While enjoyable and quite delicious at times, I found myself gravitating back to the 12, a little put off by the whisky’s tough finish. B+ / $80
GlenDronach Allardice 18 Years Old – Again, three short years give this malt a wildly different perspective. The wood now dominates completely, drowning away the sweetness and sherry influence in the younger whiskys. Kind of a mocha kick, with notes of coal, raisin, and dark chocolate. Less complex than it sounds — like the 15 it is overwhelmed by wood, though the finish, once you push past the heat, offers substantial charm. 92 proof. B+ / $115