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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Single Malt Report: GlenDronach 8 year old 2002 Single Virgin Oak Hogshead #4525

Sorry for the crummy photo. The label was almost unreadable, thus effects were required.
Here's the first of two GlenDronach single virgin oak hoggie reviews.  Per Whiskybase, all or most of the casks numbered in the 4500s, filled in 2002, were virgin oak hogsheads.  This one was "Specially Bottled" for the whisky festival in Gent in 2011.  My sample was purchased at whiskysamples.eu a couple years ago.  More on this bottling after the tasting notes...

Distillery: GlenDronach
Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd
Age: 8 years (June 2002- January 2011)
Maturation: Virgin Oak Hogshead
Region: Eastern Highlands (on the edge of Speyside)
Alcohol by Volume: 58.8%
Cask: 4525
Limited bottling: 325

Its color is dark gold. On the nose......Wow, ginger!  So much ginger.  Then that's topped by a blast of caramel and wood pulp.  Then oats with Worcester sauce.  With time, the cereal note strengthens.  Time also allows for the development of more floral esters (and banana).  It becomes almost rummy.  The palate is quite hot.  Right up front are the floral esters, followed by apricots, fresh and dried.  Lots of sugar (white and brown) and tartness.  Candied lemon peel.  A super bitter wasabi note suddenly appears after 20+ minutes, alongside brown rice.  The candied lemon peel note floats alongside the big bitterness in the finish.  Though it gets sweeter with time, there's also a note of something between bark and cardboard.

WITH WATER (~40-43%abv)
The nose is packed with oats, caramel, and brown sugar. Hot breakfast!  Less ginger.  More yeast and wood pulp.  Small notes of banana and peach purees.  After additional time in the glass, the whisky develops an earthy/mossy note.  The palate is not hot, thankfully.  Some bitterness remains, but a sugary sweetness envelops everything.  Some toasted things like oak and grains.  With additional time it releases larger notes of yeast and hay.  The palate's big sweetness remains in the finish.  Here it plays out as orange candies and caramel candies.  It's still quite big, though I'm not sure if that's a good thing because after a while a bitter aftertaste takes over as an under-ripe banana note trails behind.

Bizarre.  Beneath all the oak the whisky seems even younger than the 8 year old age statement......and more rummish than Scottish.  Meanwhile, when neat, it feels even hotter than the ABV.  Then once water is added it becomes an entirely different whisky.  Nothing about it ever seems in balance, but because it delivers plenty of entertainment value, I can't call it terrible.  I can't really say it's good either.

Ultimately, I'm perplexed by why this cask was selected (by the distillery itself?) for the Gent Festival.  It seems like an experiment that went awry to the point that it couldn't be blended away.  I can confirm this though: There were no sherry casks compromised in the making of this single malt.

Availability - Auctions?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 75