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Friday, June 12, 2015

Single Malt Report: Glendronach 13 year old 1990 Whisky Galore (Duncan Taylor)

Whisky Galore, a now mostly silent Duncan Taylor brand, used to bottle a number of single malts with a solid presentation: 46%abv, non-chillfiltered, and uncolored.  I believe they may have done a few single cask releases as well.  Usually their whiskies are very light in color, allowing one to see Glendronach and Macallan in their non-sherried amber glory.  I've only physically beheld their bottles in one store, though there may be a handful of other shops that still have Galore bottles lingering around from 10+ years ago.  When I saw this bottle of Glendronach, with its urine shade and generic label, I knew it was meant for me:

I'm ending this week's series with this whisky because it hews closest to my intent to search out nearly naked Glendronach spirit.  Tuesday's and Wednesday's single casks were loaded with U.S. oak.  Thursday's had refill sherry and new American oak.  This one is free of those trappings, so flaunt it, Glendronach!

Distillery: GlenDronach
Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd
Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Brand: Whisky Galore  (perhaps inspired by the film?)
Age: 13 years
Distilled: 1990
Bottled: 2003
Maturation: "oak casks", probably refill ex-bourbon casks
Region: Eastern Highlands (on the edge of Speyside)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill filtered? No
Caramel Coloring? No
(Review from my own bottle, just above the halfway point)

Its color is light gold, the lightest of the whiskies this week.  The nose begins with apple juice and soil.  Underneath that is a cocktail of anise, mint leaves, and lemons.  There's a forest floor with dried leaves (reminiscent of early Kilkerran WIPs) and new rose petals.  After 20 minutes, small notes of white rye spirit, dried coriander, and strawberry jam appear.  The palate is a little bitter, a little dirty, a little lean, and a little austere (I can use that word once a week, right?).  It takes a few minutes for it to open up.  Once it does there are limes up front, black pepper in the back, a bunch of barley in the middle, and a little simple syrup just underneath.  After 20 minutes in the glass, the whisky picks up hints of vanilla and tar.  Though it gets a little tarter, it also picks up some brown sugar.  The finish is pretty long, considering the age and strength, and very straightforward.  A mildly sweet orange syrup with toasted smoked almonds and peppercorns.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
At first the nose has been neutralized.  Gradually, lemons and limes and those rose petals appear.  That's countered by some industrial notes, like polyester and engine grease.  With time, notes of moss, dandelions, and canned peaches arise.  The palate gets bitterer, sharp and peppery.  Very lean and raw stuff.  Some tart lime, a few flowers, and confectioner's sugar gradually develop.  Lots of barley in the finish.  Limes, sugar, a touch of vanilla.  Still sturdy.

This appeals to a specific palate.  If those tasting notes sound good to you, then this is your thing.  It is my thing, but I can see this whisky either turning off or boring the hell out of someone else.  I tried Galore's Pulteney a few years back and found the same leanness.  So, I think that may be the style the bottlers were going for.  If I spy anything else from this series, I'd be happy to give it a try as well.

As for this Glendronach specifically, there are some touches of its (very-)refill casks here and there, but you're mostly getting lightly matured barley spirit.  One might even find some hints of the subtle peating that the distillery's maltsters utilize.  It's both slightly dirty and slightly pretty, and fully lovable.  Just like this blogger.

Availability - ???
Pricing - I'm guessing it would be $50-$60
Rating - 87  (but only for specific palates)