Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Review / Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 10

This whisky is the latest in the annual cask strength series from the east Highland distillery of Glendronach. The Cask Strength Batch 10 has been delayed by the Covid pandemic and was created by Dr. Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for Glendronach. The new no age statement release is constructed using whiskies of differing ages that have been maturing in ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels. These have been hand-selected and married together by Barrie. The Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 10 is bottled at 58.6% ABV and will be available in limited numbers in selected markets worldwide. A bottle will retail for £77/ $105 US. 

The Glendronach distillery was founded in 1826 by James Allardice and is located in 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. It was the last in Scotland to use stills directly fired by coal - this practice only finished in 2005. The distillery is known for its use of high quality ex-sherry casks and is currently owned by Brown-Forman, who took control in 2016. The annual production has recently increased to around two million litres.

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep golden amber and the nose is big, bold and expressive from the beginning. Caramel and dark dried fruits (think of currants, raisins and sultanas) rise first and are followed by aromas of toffee, fruit cake and toasted nuts. There is a delicious background earthy and spicy quality also. It is very enticing.

On the palate this whisky is equally as big and bold. Initially, expressive dried fruit notes hit the taste buds with the raisin and sultana coming through strongly. These are accentuated by further notes of candied orange peel and a hint of prune. The hefty caramel note from the nose is never far away and wraps around everything. A hint of sugary toffee and Christmas fruit cake simmer away underneath. The earthy baking spices from the cake-like element begin to build towards the end - think of cinnamon, all-spice, mace and a grind of pepper. The combination is wonderful. Late hints of gingerbread, cocoa and those toasted nuts (especially hazelnut and walnut) add even further depth.

The finish is long and flavoursome. The high ABV drags the bolder notes along. The sweeter and dried fruit characteristics fade first and this leaves the nutty and spicy notes to fight amongst themselves. This makes the whisky drier and a little hot. A late pleasant oaky element also comes through.

What's the verdict?

We have long been fans of this Cask Strength series from Glendronach. They really are one of the best exponents of sherry cask maturation. Batch 10 is superbly well balanced for such a high strength whisky. The high ABV carries the aromas and flavours through very well and leaves a powerful impression.  

A few drops of water softens the whisky down well and it becomes more fudgey and toffee-like. The power and boldness is lost a little, with the woody and spicy notes deadened. A lovely whisky overall and a definite if you like your big sherry bombs.

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