It's been a while since I had some Glendronachs now. The distillery was shut down for a period of 6 years from 1996-2002. They came back strong with some standard sherried expressions of 15, 18 and 21yo, but is now again back to the good old 12yo. And also there will be a decreasing number of sherried whiskies in years to come as the distillery, under new ownership of Benriach Distillery Co., have gone back to only using bourbon casks for maturation. And why the Brora? I have no idea, but I received a big load of Brora whisky the other day, so why not try one just for fun.
Glendronach 26yo 1959&1960-1986 40% G&M Commemoration of Andrew & Sarah's wedding
Dark brown hue, some sherried whisky involved? It smells oaky, burnt bread and toasted nuts. Burnt onions as well. I don't mean burnt like grilled or on a stick over the fireplace, more like burnt black in a hot pan. The taste is rotten oranges and old "stiff" perfume. Quite bitter too, reminds me a bit of gin, or some herb liqueurs. I think it needs some water. Now it becomes more waxy, more licorice, camphor, leather, the aftertaste is of leather, eraser and old fabric.
Very old style whisky, a bit too much perhaps: 4
Glendronach 15yo 40% OB 2003
"100% Sherry Casks" it says, should be a treat then. Light orange color. Smells very light and easy, some apple juice, honey and cinnamon. It smells too light and subtle to give me more than that. The taste has apples once again, some light camphor and peach tea. Cloves and tamarind. The aftertaste has just the lightest of light hint of cinnamon and dried apricots.
Glendronach 21yo 1989-2011 53.5% OB cask#3314
From a PX Sherry puncheon. I know a sherry puncheon is a huge cask and that it takes more time to transfer flavors from cask to spirit the gibber the cask is. PX is short for Pedro Zimenez which is a grape used in wine and sherry production, usually for sweet versions. Dar brown/red color. Smells thick and sulphury, espresso coffee shot, burnt oak, grape juice. The taste is really ashy, espresso coffee again, thick, needs some water to open up. With added water it gets a layer of blackcurrant pulp and dry red wine. It's a good whisky no doubt, but very intense, not one to take lightly.
A dessert whisky, to sip very neatly: 6.5
Glendronach 18yo 1993-2011 54.9% OB cask#1
From Oloroso Sherry Butt#1. Oloroso sherry, the sweetest sherry type, often added PX to transform into the übersweet Cream Sherry. It smells rich and nutty, some licorice and honey. Salted butter and bacon crisps. The taste is burnt, sweet, malt syrup, dark chocolate and coffee beans. Once again I think water is needed. Water does a lot here, and it goes from a dry and rather savory whisky to this nutty, bitter, marzipan and lemon peel sensation. The finish is drying on dried fruits, coffee and dust. I have to say I'm not as convinced by these sherried versions as I hoped, so perhaps its really all for the better that they are reverting back to using only bourbon casks.
A sherry bomb that leaves a little distillery-touch to be desired: 5
Brora 30yo 52.4% OB Special Release 2002
Somewhere, in the very distant future, I'll be doing a number of sessions with emphasis on closed distilleries, but for now I just have a small vertical once in a while, like the Port Ellens in the last peaty streak. And now this one Brora. It has a nice golden hue, and smells peaty and spicy, rich, some coconut oil, oak, sawdust, daffodils, ginger, wax. The taste is thick and peppery, extremely peppery with some of that wax and initial coconut oil, which is now easily confused with honey on my palate. Another league than the Glendronachs in this session, kind of separating the men from the boys as there's still a lot of distillery character left in this even after 30 years on oak.
Great whisky, which small peaty notes lifts it up a notch or two: 9
Glendronach 21yo 48% OB Parliament
I have earlier tried the Revival(15yo) and the Allardice(18yo) from the prior Glendronach range, which is now replaced by a 12yo. This is the last one from that range, the 21yo Parliament. Bottled at 48% it has a higher abv. which should give room for more complexity, but then again, I liked the 15yo better than the 18yo, so age might matter here. I think I've already mentioned the taming effects which often happens when a whisky is matured for too long in an active cask. The color is golden brown, smells rotting oranges, carrot juice, rose wine, and paint. The taste is of licorice, burnt cream, earthy, coffee beans, banana cream liqueur, some notion of irish cream liqueur say Bailey's.
The best OB Glendronach I've had: 7.5
Next tasting: Glenburgie Distillery