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Monday, April 18, 2016

Single Malt Report: GlenDronach Peated

Glendronach, famed for its high-quality sherried malts made from a previous owner's distillate, have recently brought two new and very different products to the market.  GlenDronach Heilan and Peated are the first products made from the current ownership's (Benriach Distillery Company) spirit, and neither have much of a sherry cask influence.

Heilan has an age statement, 8 years, and is quite malty-licious in my opinion.  Meanwhile Peated, the newer "expression", does not have an age statement.  Though Glendronach spirit has previously held a tiny bit of peating, the Peated spirit is made exclusively from peated malted barley (PPMs unknown).  The spirit spends it's first maturation in ex-bourbon casks for an unknown period of time, then has a second maturation in ex-oloroso and ex-PX casks, again for an unknown period of time.  Peat + sherry can be fun if done well.  Let's see what happens here.

Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd
Region: Eastern Highlands (on the edge of Speyside)
Age: ???
Maturation: first ex-bourbon, then a combo of ex-oloroso and ex-PX sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltration? No
Added Colorant? No
(Sample was purchased)

Its color is a light amber.  Must've have been the wettest of sherry casks.

The nose starts with light peat, ocean, seaweed, and yeast.  Sort of Ledaig-Lite.  A slight sulphuric note in the background, but also some peach candy and marshmallows.  Occasionally, there's a super floral new make note......okay, not occasionally, the new make takes over after 20 minutes in the glass.

The palate is malty and sweet with vanilla peat.  White frosting, pears, rock candy.  It gradually develops a slight bitter sting.  Some pepper and seaweed here and there.

A very sweet finish, with hints of peat moss, marzipan, marshmallows, and seaweed.  Ah, the floral new make shows up again.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Not much change in the nose, really.  Maybe more yeast.  Some oats.  It's a little fartier than before.

The palate does shift a bit.  Cinnamon and peat candy.  More bitter smoke.  Bigger cereal grain notes.

The very very sweet finish has hints of peat and saltwater, but is mostly sugar.

I was going to hazard a guess that this was younger than 8 years old before I tried it, specifically because Glendronach already has an 8yo, meanwhile this has no age statement.  Then, as I went through this tasting, I started to think it was 6 years or younger.  By the time it was done, I started to wonder how many days over 3 years they waited before bottling.

The good news is Glendronach priced it low(ish), similar to the 8.  And if you're an enthusiast of naked malts, this is indeed pretty nude.  I can't imagine how many rounds these casks went through previous to this filling.  And if you don't like sherry, that's good news because there's very little of it to be found in Peated.

I like a good new make which is why I won't totally roast this whisky.  But man, this is really really really young, sort of reminiscent of Kilchoman's 100% Islay releases which always seem a half step removed from their raw distillate.  The whisky leaves me wondering why they were in such a hurry to release this stuff.  In the end, I can only recommend this to people who want to experience 'Dronach's peated new make.

Availability - Mostly Europe, only a few US retailers so far
Pricing - $45ish in Europe, $60ish in US
Rating - 79