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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Single Malt Report Taste Off! - GlenDronach 15 year "Revival"

Time for a "Revival"

Tuesday, I started with a little explanation behind my intent for this Taste Off, as well as a few bits about the distillery's history.
Wednesday, I reported on the GlenDronach 12 year.
Today, I'll report on the GlenDronach 15 year.
Tomorrow, I'll report on the GlenDronach 18 year.

Distillery: GlenDronach
Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd
Age: minimum 15 years
Maturation: Oloroso sherry casks
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill filtered? No.
Caramel Coloring? No.
Bottle Code: 10/04110 25.06.10

Usually I enter my whisky tastings having avoided others' reviews and tasting notes on the malt at hand so that I can appreciate without preconceptions.  In this case though, I was unable to avoid the raves for the GlenDronach 15 "Revival".  I didn't read the reviews, but I did know the high scores.  Serge, David Wankel, Oliver Klimek, and the rest of the Malt Maniacs adored it.  John Hansell was very impressed with it.  The LA Whisky Society were big fans.  Even Mr. Jackson's book gave it a great grade.  Thus the whisky made its way to my Dram Quest list.

The GlenDronach 15 year "Revival" arrived in the whisky market in 2009 as part of the new ownership's brand revamp.  It's 46% ABV, not chill filtered, and not dyed.  The entirety of the whisky was matured in Oloroso sherry casks.

I was very thankful to find The Whisky Exchange selling it in mini format because I was beginning to ponder buying a whole bottle blindly.

First tasting - 1 ounce, 40 minutes in the glass before nosing, neat

Its color looks like maple syrup with a little blush.  The nose has the same cream-in-sweet-tea note that the 12yr had.  There's a brawnier sherry element in this one.  A large presence of thick syrupy sugary treats.  Chocolate cherry cordials, caramel sauce, and maple syrup.  And a hint of rubber.  The palate is thick and desserty.  There's some alcohol heat and maybe even a whisper of smoke.  Big strong sherry again.  Apple cider with dried fruit shows up in both the beginning of the palate as well as in the finish.  Then there's brown sugar and warmed sherry with a touch of salt.  A big strong closer.

Second tasting - remaining 0.5 ounce from the bottle two hours later, a few drops of water

The nose holds together better with water than the 12yr.  There's still some sulphuric flatulence but much quieter.  Maybe some corn chips too.  But mostly grape and cherry juice with sherry and caramel sauce.  The palate has the grape and cherry juice notes too, along with sherry and aromatic overripe fruit sugars.  It still stays rich and desserty.  Its finish remains relatively strong, mostly holding a salted sherry.

Thoughts, conclusions, questions
While heavily-sherried whiskys tend not to deliver my favorite palate profiles, I liked this one the best of the three GlenDs.  Of these three, I also think this one would hold its own with any of Macallan's Sherry Oak releases.  (I've gone on record saying that I like Mac 12 more than Mac 18, so you'll need to take that into consideration.)  Also to note, other reviewers find notes of plums, oranges, coffee, and tobacco.

Altogether a job well done by the GlenDronach folks!  If you love sherry-matured whiskies, then this whisky may be of interest to you.  I'd recommend sampling it through Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt though before diving into a 750mL bottle.

Availability - Most liquor specialists
Pricing - $75-$85 in the US, but with some creative purchasing this can be picked up from Europe/UK for $60-$65
Rating - 87