The Glendronach distillery was founded in 1826 by James Allardice and lies in the heart of the Aberdeenshire countryside, close to the town of Huntly. The majority of the present buildings date from 1850 when the distillery was rebuilt following a devastating fire and it was the last in Scotland to use stills directly fired by coal - this practice only finished in 2005. The distillery is owned by American drinks company Brown-Forman and currently produces around 1.3 million litres of spirit per year.
“The Cask Strength Batch 8 is incredibly rich and full-bodied - the result of years of slow maturation in Pedro Ximénez puncheons, quarter casks and Oloroso sherry butts. I hope the most discerning palates will sip, savour and appreciate the full-bodied character.”
Dr. Rachel Barrie.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose is packed with rich and sweet aromas. There is plenty of caramel and raisin in particular which are backed up by some toffee, sultana and candied orange. Later aromas of baking spice, fresh green apple and white chocolate add depth.
On the palate this whisky has plenty of power, which is not surprising given the high ABV. There is a mouthwatering heat which is most reminiscent of white pepper. As this subsides and the whisky mixes with your saliva, it is the sweet notes that appear first - this is driven by a significant note of toffee and gives a creamy and softer mouth feel. Then come bittersweet malted cereals with a background hint of mocha and white chocolate in particular. These are supported by a variety of dried fruit (think of raisin, sultana, candied orange with a suggestion of prune and dark cherry also) and late hints of cocoa powder, cinnamon and clove.
With water the whisky naturally becomes softer. It feels creamier with the white pepper and spices reduced to being background elements. A delicious vanilla note is now evident and mingles well with the toffee and dried fruit notes. Both neat and with water the finish is very long with the malted cereals and baking/oak spices coming back to the fore towards the end.
What's the verdict?
This is a big and bold whisky. It is unashamedly fruity, rich and packed with ex-sherry cask characteristics. But this is what Glendronach is as a distillery and brand, and what it is known for. The Cask Strength Batch 8 is punchy but actually quite easy drinking, even though it is 61% ABV.
That said, most will want to add water and this is where the whisky really begins to show its classy and multi-layered nature. As it is an annual release, the numbers of bottles are limited. If you like your sherried whiskies then this will be right up your street. Grab one while you can.