Like yesterday's single cask I have no idea if this one spent its entire existence in new oak, thanks to the revelation that GlenDronach has been known to rerack its so-called single casks into different types of casks and not divulge this information. (I again point you to MAO's excellent Glendronach articles.) But like yesterday's single cask, I wouldn't be surprised if it did spend all or most of its time in the listed virgin oak hogshead.
Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd
Age: 10 years (June 2002- October 2012)
Maturation: Virgin Oak Hogshead
Region: Eastern Highlands (on the edge of Speyside)
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%
Cask: 4530 (selected by The Nectar Belgium)
Limited bottling: 298
When I first opened the bottle, the whisky was REALLY sweet, like a bourbon+scotch liqueur. It was a bit much for my palate, but luckily the liquid calmed down after a month. These notes come from a little above the halfway point in the bottle, about two months after it was opened.
Its color is dark gold, darker than yesterday's 8yo, like an older barrel strength bourbon. Right up front I find three major notes in the nose: Corn syrup, cotton t-shirts, and sawdust. There's much less ginger than in the 8yo. With about 20 minutes of airing out, the nose broadens. Wheated bourbon (like Maker's but better), clover honey, root beer, milk, and something meaty. After a half hour it's all bourbon: vanilla, caramel, and baking spices. Its palate is less hot and more approachable than the 8yo. Not exactly "scotch", but not exactly "bourbon", either. LOTS of oak, but the malted barley still stands strong in the background. Limes and simple syrup. Sweet, not much complexity, but nothing going cockeyed either. The finish has Caramel with a capital "C". Honey in tonic water. Wheated bourbon (like Maker's but better). Swisher Sweets and a hint of wood smoke. Gets sweeter with time.
WITH WATER (~40-43%abv)
The nose is loaded with vanilla and caramel, reminiscent of Cow Tales and salted caramel everything. A moderate sized note of thick toffee. In the far back, there are notes of roasted grains and phenols, but one needs binoculars to find them. Nose binoculars. The palate leads with some grassy malt with a massive layer of caramel and vanilla on top. Small notes of cayenne pepper and tart citrus later expand with time. The finish is sweet and grassy, with lime juice and a spicy zip.
Scottish bourbon. I know I'm not the first to state that conclusion, but it kinda fits. This cask is totally inoffensive (unless American oak offends you) and not complex, but impossible to hate as a dessert whisky. If you have a bottle, I recommend airing it out a bit, otherwise you'll find pours from mid-bottle better than those from the top.
Unlike yesterday's 8 year old single new oak cask, this whisky never seems to be out of control nor a mess nor a slog nor a total oddity. I would easily recommend this one over the other, whether the improvement is due to the two extra years or if it was just a better cask. It does seem to be a limited experiment (which is why I bought it), and I doubt they'd actually do an all-virgin-oak release as its own regular expression. But as far as whisky experiments go, it ain't bad.
Availability - Auctions?
Pricing - I bought it for €59 (€49 w/o VAT, cheapest 'Dronach single cask ever?)