So here we go - the results of my adventure through the 9 bottles of GlenDronach’s batch release - batch #11
I started with the youngest and worked up to the oldest. Most of the whiskies were tried twice, and on different days (just to make sure my palate and nose were firing on all cylinders), and apart from one bottle, I had not read the official tasting notes beforehand, as it can be distracting. 2 whiskies pretty much blew me away and are my joint winners for this review. (I've said who they are at the end of this review)
So let’s start with the first one...
Cask #244 / 18yr / 1996 / Oloroso
A: Deep amber, long slow legs.
N: Old fashioned home-made sherry trifle, blackcurrant jam, fresh squidgy bread, slight bacon aroma.
P: Initial zingy peppery punch, followed by a lovely rich and thick sherry dominance. Then you get a dry and woody bitterness appearing that then turns back into a big sweet and slightly smokey mouth coating oiliness on the back of the tongue.
F: Long and smokey. Imagine smoking a cigar that’s made of liquorice - that's how I would describe it.
I'm really surprised how much I liked this – very multi-layered and enjoyable.
Cask #4941 / 19yr / 1995 / Oloroso
A: Medium-deep amber, long slow legs.
N: Runny caramel and sticky malt extract (like you can get in jars) There’s a ripe tropical fruit presence along with gentle alcohol fumes.
P: Initially there’s a surprising tart sourness and it’s very dry – reminding me of a dry Oloroso sherry, then a bitter ‘on the verge of burnt sugar’ sweetness that starts to creep in and take away the sourness.
F: Medium, with a dryness that has a very faint tobacco taste. A fair amount of chilli-tang stays on the tongue.
I struggled with this one a little, even with 3 separate tastings.
Cask #3201 / 20yr / 1994 / PX
A: Medium to deep amber, long and slow oily legs
N: Candy-floss, hot treacle sponge, rum & raisin ice cream, Pink Lady apples, and a faint smell of old coins that have been in your hand for a while (but in a good way)
P: OK, thick thick thick rich sweetness. Very smooth and mouth coating, with herbs and wood. To use a ridiculous made-up analogy, if I could eat a sugar-coated Elizabethan wooden-panelled drawing room, this would be it.
F: Medium-long. Exciting and active dry spiciness with burnt toffee.
This has such a great nose and is fabulously thick on the tongue.
Cask #538 / 19yr / 1995 / PX
A: Medium to deep amber, long and slim oily legs.
N: A smell from my childhood - cherry cola! Rich and sweet with perfumed white wine. Squashed ripe grapes.
P: Sweet sherry with a liquorice and rhubarb. Then a faint drying espresso coffee hit comes in.
F: Medium. Wood and leather, treacle, liquorice and more treacle. Quite a lot going on here!
For me, this one had a more exciting nose than the palate.
Cask #54 / 20yr / 1994 / Oloroso A: Dark amber – mahogany, long slow legs.
N: Rich & creamy sherry, toffee caramel, pralines, prune juice, stewed fruits and freshly polished leather shoes.
P: Huge sweet explosion with a secondary spicy kiss. Fab! Fantastic Oloroso sherry flavour with lots of mouth-coating oiliness.
F: Long and sweet. Gentle spiciness lingers for a while and then black cherries appear tapering to a final sweet/bitter dryness.
Really enjoyable, this one.
Cask #3386 / 20yr / 1994 / PX
A: Deep amber. Gingerbread. Medium thin legs.
N: Sherry and thick dessert wine. Smoked meats, cherry/kirsch fumes and faint cut grass.
P: Bingo – this is more like it. Deep, thick and sweet. Atomic sherry bomb city-central. Absolutely beautiful. Rich and very complex with so many things going on. Huge sherry and that classic rich booze-soaked Xmas cake with all-spice. Lovely thick prune juice and rich jam.
F: Long, sophisticated and hugely enjoyable with a fantastic balance of sweetness, wood and spice.
The palate belies the nose. This is a belter of a whisky.
Cask #1162 / 1990 / 24yr / PX
A: Golden amber, thin legs.
N: The first impression is the smell that hit me when I used to walk into an old-fashioned sweet shop as a kid. Then red wine jus followed by bacon!
P: Sherry trifle with an instant appearance of Fishermans Friends, liquorice twists and aniseed. This is quite a ‘fumy’ and ‘aniseedy’ dram, I find.
F: Medium-long with a definite aniseed tone. Not entirely sure about this one.
Definitely one to be in the mood for, I think.
Cask #1020 / 1990 / 24yr / PX
A: Polished walnut. Really dark. Long & slow oily legs. N: Intense sherry, burnt sugar, bread & butter pudding, stewed spiced fruits and a freshly opened packet of juicy raisins.
P: Good Lord, this is absolutely enormous. Huge rich sweetness, fabulously thick and fantastic. For me, this is GlenDronach at its best. A brilliant balance of sweetness, spice and viscosity. Liquid booze-soaked dark fruitcake and rich creamy toffee.
F: Long and sweet with a well-tamed woody bitterness. It just goes on and on.
Absolutely stunning. For me, this is a classic after-dinner sipping whisky when you’re sat by an open fire with a piece of fruitcake next to you. Definitely my kind of dram.
Cask #2920 / 43yr / 1971 / PX
A: Dark amber. Slow unrushed legs.
N: Rich sherry verging on Cognac. Caramel and strawberry ice cream is there as well.
P: Gentle spice with a dark sweetness. Salted caramel. Very woody with a dryness that coats the whole mouth.
F: Very long. Classic and timeless, with a burnt peppery PX finish. Faint cigar smoke and mouth coating.
A cracker, but for me, not the best of the bunch here.
Overall conclusion and winners
There are some absolute stonkers in this batch. Interestingly there’s a large proportion of 20 and 24 year old whiskies, but they have very individual personalities.
For me, the clear winners are: