Tasting: GlenDronach

My feelings about this tasting after the event were not entirely what I had expected them to be.

Like a Spaghetti Western movie,  it encompassed the truly magnificent, the sort-of-ok, and the “Really??”

The name GlenDronach generally brings smiles to faces.  It anticipates a good drop, as do the outputs from its sister distilleries, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh.

This vertical tasting of GlenDronach whiskies included some rare (and relatively uncheap) whiskies.

Now, “uncheap” is a very subjective term, governed in some part by the depth of one’s pockets.  To some buyers, paying out $100 for a bottle of whisky may be viewed as a big outlay.  To others, $600+ is a mere bagatelle.

I tend to buy in the $120-$160 range as I can find a lot I like in that range.

But the opportunity to taste whiskies that are in the higher price ranges is always a good option for me.  The cost of going to tastings is not high and if I don’t like the offerings I haven’t shelled out a whole lot of money.  If I do like them, I have tried them – without laying out a whole lot of money!

Win-win, smiley face, smiley face.

Back Story

Now owned by Brown-Forman, The GlenDronach is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland.

GlenDronach, then under the ownership William Teacher & Sons, was mothballed in 1996 and resumed production in 2002.  I only note this rather prosaic piece of information to provide a little interesting background to some of the whiskies in this tasting.

With some careful mathematical workings, 1996 was 22 years before 2018.  This means that anything in this tasting that is 22 years old or over is stock made before the distillery was mothballed.  And there were three in that timeframe – the 22 yo PX from 1995, the 25 year old from 1992 and the 27 year old from 1990, all of which were bottled in 2017.

The Whiskies

1995 22yo, PX Puncheon, 53.1%

The first of old stock.  Darker in colour, nose of brown sugar with a slight hint of sulphur and grandfather’s braces, Christmas cake and syrup, an slightly oily medium length finish where the taste stops but the heat lingers.  A top drop!  Score: 9.6

21 yo Parliament 48%

Slightly lighter colour (1.5), nice nose of leather, old sack and tinned fruit, buttery on the palette then thin and slightly sour taste.  Score: 7.6

1992 25yo Sherry Butt 50.9%

The second from old stock.  It is darker colour at 1.7, with the nose of an old leather chair, px raisins and sultanas, musty and old furniture.  The taste is smooth and high-end chocolate, dry on the tongue and slightly tannic.  Goes sour at the end with a short/medium finish.  Score: 7.8

1990 27yo, PX puncheon, 52.1%

Another from the pre-mothballed old stock.  A lovely nose of lollies and liquorice, brown sugar, vanilla and prunes.  The palette is smooth and sweet, cake, fruit, grass, sack, dry  (too much time in wood?) to a long finish. My second favourite of the event but only by a short nose (I am a sucker for a PX-matured whisky!).  Score: 9.5

Allardice 18yo, 46%, Olorosso

The nose is rather dirty and musty, with vegemite, sulphur and slight smoke.  The palette is disappointingly flat, with no great highlights to a short/medium finish.  I would generally go quite a distance for an oloroso whisky – sadly not in this case.  Score: 7.4

12yo Original, 43%

The nose of sweet lollies, caramel and vanilla ice cream, laundry that has not been properly aired (sourish smell – bourbon barrel?), chocolate.  Palette: fruit (oloroso?), taste is a bit disappointing compared to the promise of the nose.  Score: 8.0

Hazelburn (Campbelltown) 13yo oloroso 47.4% (the mystery)

“One of these is not like the others”.  A nose of marine and rock pools, quite light, an old opium pipe, musty with slight smoke and the sweet smell of a service station grease pit.  The taste echoes the peat and smoke, with a short/medium finish.  Not hard to spot as the Mystery, although its origins were not as easily identifiable!  Score: 7.5

Additional Glass

The Hielan, 8yo 46%

Very light in colour (0.3), almost clear.  The marine and sourish nose continues over to the palette with a bourbon barrel taste.  Score 7.8

Overall view of the tasting: a couple of real highlights, but overall not quite as magnificent as I was expecting.  Glad I went, though!

Tastings are a bit like buses – there’ll be another along shortly!

Tasting held at Regional Wines & Spirits, Wellington.  Presenter: Daniel Bruce McLaren.

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