Glendronach came back with a bang. After an unfortunate period of closure (mothballed from 1996 to 2001) they’ve spent the last 14 years proving they’ve still got what it takes, and today their whisky-nerd credentials are through the roof: They don’t do training whisky (whisky bottled below 43%). They don’t chill filter. They don’t submerge their whisky in caramel colourant. They stand by their age statements. And of course, their casks – their lovely delicious casks. We’re talking (exclusively) PX and Oloroso sherry casks of the highest order. Yes please!
Glendronach 12 was my first dive into a 100% sherry matured single malt, and remains one of my (spoiler alert) absolute favourites. To me, it’s to sherry what Ardbeg is to peat, what Johnnie Black is to spice – the sherried dram by which I compare all others.
A beautiful burnt orange/red, copper.
A big whiff of sweet sherry, but not as intense as you might expect (I’ll leave that to the 15, 16 and 18!) Buttery vanilla, custard. Very faint floral smell.
A tough one to discover – it’s a single, rich flavour that takes a while to unpack. Very sweet, spicy and a faint fruitiness – cherries perhaps. Sour cream, brown sugar and mint. Red fruits, raisins. Fantastic. And prepare for a slow ride out – this lingers for a while. A bitter finish that develops sweet and fruity.
Although I prefer it neat, Glendronach 12 is one of the rare cases where a bit of water brings out enough new, interesting flavours to justify watering it down a little. A teaspoon of water takes the edge off the alcohol but leaves it sweeter, slightly citrusy (a faintly sour bite), buttery and smooth as silk.
Sherry matured whiskies are often referred to as “dessert” whiskies, and it’s easy to see why: this stuff is rich. This isn’t something you could slam at the bar – more than a glass or two will leave you feeling more bloated than during your post-Christmas-lunch nap.
But it’s wonderfully complex, difficult to analyse and leaves a lot to think about. I loved it, and I love Glendronach. Certainly not my everyday dram – but give me a rainy day in winter, a warm couch and a crackling fireplace and I’d nurse a glass without hesitation.