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Thursday, September 24, 2015

A week of wut? A GlenDronach single cask goes fakakta

Three months ago, I reviewed my bottle of GlenDronach 10yo 2002 Virgin Oak Hogshead #4530.  I gave it an 83 rating, declared it Scottish Bourbon, and noted that the cask influence was pleasant.
At that time (early June), the bottle which had been open for two months was at its halfway point.  But ever since I got to its bottom third (early August), it's become less and less enjoyable.  I'm reminded of a quote from a wise whisky friend from Irvine who once said of an open bottle that lingered and lingered in the cabinet, "It's just so much fucking work."  My bottle of GlenDronach has become just so much fucking work to drink.  So I thought it best to review it a second time.
The final four ounces of oak...
Distillery: GlenDronach
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

Color -- Dark gold.  That hasn't changed.
Nose -- All bourbon. Or should I say, all oak.  More sawdust than vanilla.  Wood varnish.  Imitation mint extract.  A slight nuttiness, like hazelnuts or Nutella or praline.
Palate -- A slab of bitter oak is the first guest to the party and the last to leave.  Some aromatic wood notes as well.  Vanilla.  Lots of salt and sour lemon.
Finish -- Vanilla and caramel.  Sawdust and heat.  The sour lemon shifts to vinegar.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Nose -- This trims off the rougher oak parts, but is otherwise a load of vanilla, caramel, and barrel char.  Smaller notes of nuts and brine.
Palate -- Very bitter, salty, and oddly sweet.  It's like the many off-kilter craft bourbons that have been bottled too young after being aged in tiny barrels.  Like liking a stave.
Finish -- Sour, salty, and bitter.  Also vanilla.

And, may I add, it's even bitterer on the rocks.  As you can see from my notes, adding water isn't a good idea, so I still prefer it neat.  If "prefer" is the right word.  The nose is still somewhat recommendable for those who are bourbon fans.  Meanwhile, the difficult palate is all I can think of right now.

For my fellow completists, I'll also add that I never applied any Private Preserve, but I did decant the whisky into an 8 ounce bottle, and then later into a 4 ounce bottle, hoping the decanting would help it out.  It did not.  Perhaps oxidation is responsible for the degradation?  The bottle was opened five months ago and was best at the start and still good at the midpoint.  So, I suppose I'd recommend that the bottle be consumed within three months or less before things start to fall apart.  Or maybe there's something to these single Glendronach VO casks that doesn't work for me, since I also did not care for cask #4525.  In any case, I have no interest in trying any more of these VO single casks, ever.

And one final note for those who obtained a sample of this from me, please know that yours did not come from this last third of the bottle.

Availability - Auctions?
Pricing - I bought it for €59 (€49 w/o VAT)
Rating - 73