Glendronach is a little known distillery that is located in the south eastern tip of the Speyside region of Scotland. It lies close to the town of Huntly and was founded in 1826. Glendronach later became an important part of the William Teacher & Sons empire, with most of the whisky being used within the popular Teacher's blended whisky range. The distillery is relatively small with an annual capacity of 1.4 million litres and was the last distillery to use coal fires to heat its stills. The use of this traditional heating method died out when Glendronach's stills were converted to steam heating in 2005.
Glendronach has recently been given a new lease of life, following a period of closure. During 2008, the distillery was taken over an independent company called The Benriach Distillery Company Ltd, who are the innovative owners of another Speyside distillery at Benriach. They immediately made a decision to expand the range of Glendronach whisky that previously contained just this 12 years old and a limited edition 33 years old. They have added a 15 and an 18 years old to fill the gap in the range and these were released in the UK aprroximately two months ago. The plan is to increase the popularity and availability of Glendronach whisky and capitalise on the world's current trend for quality single malts.
This 12 years old is double matured in two types of cask - partly in sherry casks then bourbon quarter casks, which are a quarter of the size of a regular cask and give up to 30% more contact between the wood and the whisky. This allows more influence from the cask to be imparted into the spirit. The colour is amber with a sumptuous nose that is full of dark dried fruits (think of raisins, sultanas and dried candied peel) combining with vanilla and caramel. On the palate, this gives an initial sharp burst of sugar (imagine brown sugar) and then becomes fruity (that dried fruit again), spicy (think of cinnamon especially), nutty (imagine a slight bitter nut like a walnut) and has a touch of concentrated citrus (think of candied orange peel/marmalade). Further sweetness comes from the malted barley. It all combines very well and is balanced but maybe slightly lighter than you would expected from such rich characteristics. The finish is long, warming and enjoyable.
This Glendronach is a lovely whisky that is easy drinking and very approachable but that has good balance and complexity. This would make it great as an introduction for someone to the world of sweeter sherry cask influenced whiskies. This under rated distillery is worth trying as an interesting alternative to the more well known producers of this style such as Macallan or Glenfarclas. A bottle should cost £25-30 from independent whisky retailers.
My wife gave me a bottle of Glen Dronach 12 for Xmas. Although my taste leans toward Islay Scotch, I found this bottle very enjoyable. My first impression that of a smooth, sweet bourbon, with just a hint of Scotch peatyness (is that a word?) It has a nice, smooth finish, and even those who are not hard-core Scotch drinkers would enjoy it. Nice to find this rare gem in Minnesota.
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