I have been on a bit of a GlenDronach binge lately. While the excellent GlenDronach 12 remains my go-to budget sherried dram, I decided it was high time to put a little time and effort into its older brethren. While the 15 (“Revival”) is increasingly tough to come by here in SA, the 18 (“Allardice”) and the 21 (“Parliament”) are still widely available.
Like most of the “glens”, GlenDronach 18 is the middle child in their core lineup. This time we have maturation exclusively in Oloroso casks, for no less than 18 years and presented in a refreshingly understated cardboard tube. And in true GlenDronach style, the liquid is untouched by colourant or post-processing.
Simply stunning. Rich, deep, ruby red.
Ah, yes… Sweet vermouth. Mice Pies. Sweeter than even the sherry might suggest – jelly babies. A little pineapple at the back, and some… banana. Something slightly acidic – sort of brown spirit vinegar. Not bad though. Croissants.
Rich, mouthwatering and chewy – intense!
You get a sense of the malt despite being an absolute bloody sherry monster. A floral, grassy, barley note that manages to make itself known. Massive stewed fruits, apricots, some lemony zing and pears.
I find I prefer the dryness of Oloroso casks in general, and here you have plenty of that on display. But strangely, it is by far the sweetest of the range – something to keep in mind if that’s not how you roll. Fortunately there’s no real fear of it becoming too cloying or artificial tasting (cough, Lasanta), and it remains a real Scotch whisky – heavy, woody and slightly bitter.
Yes please! Just a little water dials down the acidic nose and lessens the sweetness – making it a much more enjoyable drink all around. It chills nicely too – try pour some in a chilled glass for a real dessert alternative.
Sherry bitter, very long, and eventually minty right at the back. This is quite easily one of the slowest drams money can buy – there truly is no urgency here, no rush to sip.
A simply great whisky, but that’s to be expected given its pedigree. If you’re after a heavy-hitting example of what a sherry bruiser can do, you won’t find much better than this.
That being said, it’s not my favourite of the range. That honour belongs to the (now rare) 15-year-old Revival, which overall seems more balanced and a little less of a one-trick-pony. GlenDronach 18 is so rich and filling that it’s tough to recommend as a casual drink and far more appropriate as a guilty pleasure, like Millionaire Shortbread or Turkish Delight.
Make no mistake – this is quality stuff, decadent and special. If you like your whisky sweet (hello, Bourbon drinkers!) you will absolutely love it!