The now infamous Glendronach Cask 5962 for Nickolls and Perks has gotten some interesting press in recent months. What started off as a comparatively low-cost 1993 vintage offering got some harsh reviews early on and it really set the tone for this bottle with many whisky enthusiasts. Glendronach has been in the doghouse with many single malt fans lately for other recent changes, but I’d like to focus on a label change that occurred a few years ago for today’s review.
In 2019, Glendronach changed the labeling for their single barrel range from Single Cask to Cask Bottling due in part to a practice called “re-racking” wherein whisky is moved to another cask before bottling. For the purposes of this range, the practice takes whisky from the same vintage year that is then moved from one or more barrels to another finishing barrel. I don’t know what your expectations are for a whisky labeled as a single cask but Glendronach took a very liberal interpretation of the term before eventually relabeling the range Cask Bottling. This new range title eliminates any direct indication that these bottles are single casks expressions. For a lot more about Glendronach’s re-racking practices, check out this amazing article by the good people at My Annoying Opinions.
How does this relate directly to Glendronach Cask 5962? If a standard PX Puncheon has a 500 liter capacity and a single cask miraculously suffered no evaporative loss of whisky during its 26+ years of maturation, the yield would be 714 individual 70cl bottles of whisky. Cask 5962 yielded 704 bottles. If this were, indeed, a true single cask, that would indicate a nearly-impossible 1.4% loss of liquid during the lifetime of the maturation process.
Glendronach isn’t the only distillery re-racking whisky and I have a feeling that other distilleries might be trying to pass off re-racked whisky as single cask expressions. I don’t particularly like the idea of re-racked whisky from multiple barrels being called a single cask so I appreciate the term Cask Bottling as a slightly better indication of what might be in the bottle.
Of course in the end, what really matters is the quality and flavor of the final result. Glendronach 1993 Cask Bottling 5962 by Nickolls and Perks was bottled at 57% ABV. How did this polarizing whisky fare?
|Nose||Raisins, dates, cinnamon, clove, toffee, winey, cocoa powder, old oak. There are some nice old, sherried whisky notes here on the nose.|
|Taste||Chocolate covered cherries, almonds, sherry sweetness, vanilla pudding, a bit of leather, walnuts, burnt sugar, astringent wood.|
|Finish||Wood-forward, a good blast of nuttiness, 90% cacao chocolate, baking spice, dried berries. Medium length. The wood note remains and is the last to fade.|
|Overall Thoughts||This whisky changed significantly during the course of several tastings for me and eventually settled out somewhere in the middle. I will say that the nose remained consistently great throughout the entire bottle. Sometimes, I liked this pour a lot and other times, I found that astringent note to be a bit off-putting. In the end, I thought that this Glendronach was not the horrible drain pour that some made it out to be but it also isn’t the best cask this distillery has ever put out. The bottle count does get me suspecting that this was a case of re-racking into another cask. As always, I am but a single palate so your results will certainly vary.|