This new whisky is the latest bottling in the popular annual cask strength series from the east Highland distillery of Glendronach. The Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 11 is a celebration of both natural strength whisky and of Glendronach's heavily sherried style. It has been created by Dr. Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for Glendronach, using a combination of spirit matured in Spanish oak ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
The Batch 11 has been bottled at 59.8% ABV and is limited in number, although the exact quantity has not been revealed. It is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will be available in specialist whisky retailers in selected global markets. A bottle will cost £68/ $78 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 amber and the nose is full of deep and rich aromas. Cognac-soaked raisins, prune, figs and sultanas rise first and are then followed by further aromas of candied orange peel, toasted nuts and caramel. In the background there are hints of orange oil, marzipan and treacle tart.
On the palate this whisky is equally as deep and rich as the nose suggested. The dark dried fruits dominate to begin with and these follow a similar track as before - there are plenty of raisins, sultanas and candied citrus peel on offer, plus deeper notes of prune, fig and dates. Caramel and treacle sit underneath and alongside some increasingly heavy woody and baking spice. This gives warmth and further depth. The spices threaten to become too influential but just about hold themselves back enough. Hints of toasted nuts (especially hazelnut and walnut), marzipan and orange oils sit alongside further hints of cocoa, milk chocolate and some late warming gingerbread.
The finish is superbly long and warming. The sweet caramel-like and dried fruit notes drag the finish out. As they slowly fade, the drier woodier and spicer notes take hold, There is also an increasing earthy and dusty note, which always comes from older whiskies maturing in good quality ex-sherry casks. Delicious.
What's the verdict?
This latest offering of the Glendronach Cask Strength is very good and shows everything that consumers love about the distillery. Their bold spirit works superbly well with ex-sherry casks and the aromas and flavours are heightened by the higher ABV. This should keep both Glendronach fanatics and new fans happy. The only slight negative was that the mid-palate comes dangerously close to becoming too woody and tannic, but thankfully reins it in just in time.
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