Before we get to the present and look at today’s GlenDronach 15 Year review, I want to tell you a story from the past and the effect that it had on my relationship with GlenDronach. I bought a bottle of GlenDronach 15 Year Revival back in 2013 after doing some research on new distilleries to explore. I was excited to dig into this highly touted release but upon pouring the first glass, I was greeted with a distinct rubber/burnt tire note on the nose that I found to be incredibly off-putting. The note didn’t follow as heavily onto the palate once I tasted it but as we all know, the nose of a whisky is a huge part of the tasting process. Months passed as I shared pours from this bottle with friends and family and I eventually realized that I seemed to be the only one who was sensitive to this rubber note. I wasn’t sure if it was that particular bottle/batch or a trend with the distillery in general but that experience put GlenDronach on the back burner for me for a long time.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to try the 18 and 21 year expressions at an in-store tasting and lo and behold, the rubber note I prepared for was nowhere to be found. Was there something different about these older expressions? Did something change across the entire distillery? Did I really have a bad bottle several years earlier? I’ll never know the answer to these questions for sure but I began exploring and appreciating the distillery from that point forward.
A few months ago, I had an opportunity to try a 2021 bottling of GlenDronach Revival. This was the moment of truth for me. Would I face that same rubber note that turned me off all those years ago? Things should have been at least slightly different this time around. The first time I tried the 15 year, it was made from 100% ex-Oloroso casks and came from pre-mothballed distillate in 1995 making it 18 or 19 years old. The modern version was from distillate produced after 2002 and includes the use of ex-PX casks as well. And despite the hoopla that went on earlier this year, I’ve been told by a Brown-Forman rep that the whisky making process has not changed at all since the now-infamous removal of the phrase “non-chill filtered” on the outer packaging of all standard range GlenDronach bottlings so we can assume non-chill filtration here.
With all these facts straight, the only thing left to do was taste the new bottle. GlenDronach Revival is aged at least 15 years in ex-Sherry casks and is bottled at 46% ABV.
|Nose||Plums and figs, pencil eraser, clove, hint of licorice, cacao nibs, cherry compote, orange marmalade, Demerara sugar, walnuts, pencil eraser. Water brings out a bit of sharpness to the nose as well as damson jam and raisins.|
|Taste||Dry spice first with clove, white pepper, and a little nutmeg, more walnut, lots of wine influence, dark chocolate, clotted cream, honey, hints of earthiness, spicy oak. With water, more nuttiness and some additional baking spice.|
|Finish||Big sweet sherry first followed by oranges, more plums, cinnamon, almonds, and a hint of fresh mint at the end. The sweetness and oak remains for a good long while. Water adds some lemongrass, anise, and a touch of baked apples.|
|Overall Thoughts||GlenDronach Revival was the perfect name for a brand that completely reinvented itself under the guidance of Billy Walker. As the brand matured and eventually sold to Brown-Forman, the quality of the distillery’s products remains a talking point despite what I think has been a relatively consistent product line over the past five years. GlenDronach Revival is a bit unbalanced with a bit too much sherry dominance for my preferences and I found just a touch of rubber on the nose of this release. With that said, it’s a popular release among whisky fans for a reason and will satisfy the craving for lovers of heavily sherried whisky.|