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GlenDronach Batch #12 - Complete Review

So I've finally gotten around to writing up my tasting notes for Batch #12. 9 single cask bottles in total - all of them PX, and very varied. Starting with the youngest in the batch and working through them towards the oldest, with each bottle being tasted at least twice, without water.

So, starting with the first one of the blocks, the youngest…

Cask: #5524 Year: 2004 Age: 11yrs Type: PX (Finish) ABV: 57.8

Appearance: Amber / gingerbread

Nose: Vibrant and excitable sherry with a hit of spirit on the nose. The sherry has an almost light fino element. There are also pear drops (acetone), coffee, and soft squishy raisins coming through. Let it breathe for a little longer and the sherry develops a richer tone and starts to jump out at you.

Palate: Thick, sweet and peppery. It tastes older than what's printed on the label. The sherry really makes an appearance, with a faint banana and oaky bitterness.

Finish: Much longer than I expected. It left the tongue tingling with a bittersweet coating. A slight hint of tobacco was there as well.

Conclusion: The youngest contender in this latest batch of 21st century bottles, this was the better of the two from this century.

Cask: #934 Year: 2003 Age: 12yrs Type: PX (Finish) ABV: 53.7

Appearance: Medium amber Nose: Spirity and young. Not much of a sherry-hit. Some alcohol burn.

Palate: Medium-sweet with a lot of chilli-tingle. Roasted coffee beans and an orange marmalade presence. There's a disappointing lack of sherry that I was expecting compared to the younger cask #5524 - which is a shame.

Finish: Medium with a liquorice bitterness. It doesn't last for very long.

Conclusion: I can't get on with this. Possibly the weakest in this latest batch, for me, and I can't help wondering that another year in the cask would have done it the world of good.

Cask: #3806 Year: 1995 Age: 19yrs Type: PX ABV: 54.5

Appearance: Deep golden amber Nose: Vibrant plump fruit and rich sherry. Lots of caramel, toffee and milk chocolate sensations going on here. There's also some coffee appearing in the background.

Palate: This is more like it. Lovely burnt demerara sweetness like you get on the top of a crème brûlée. The bitterness from the oak pokes though but gives it up to a mouth that's coated in that lovely sherried sweetness.

Finish: Medium to long with a lingering oak-spice

Conclusion: A great example of perfect timing by the geniuses in at the distillery when a cask is ready to bottle. A deep and rich sherry monster.

Cask: #4034 Year: 1995 Age: 19yrs Type: PX ABV: 55.4

Appearance: Golden amber & gingerbread

Nose: Lively with a medium, but a not too-powerful sherry aroma. Chocolate milkshake, fruity wine gums, raisins, wood shavings, and putty.

Palate: Lots of chilli-tingle mingled with the expected sweet sherried explosion.

Finish: Slightly bitter with licorice, tobacco, and some sulphur.

Conclusion: The nose and the taste didn't match for me. I'm not overly fond of this one as the bitterness and the pepper were too dominant. I want to love it, but I can't!

Cask: #444 Year: 1995 Age: 20yrs Type: PX ABV: 52.0

Appearance: Deep amber

Nose: Sweet custard with glugs of sherry mixed in. A freshly opened bag of gooey fruit gums waiting for you to shove your whole face in. Banana, cornflakes and grapes. Yum.

Palate: Lovely, rich spiced fruit cake that's been soaked in sherry. A proper sherry bomb. Pleasant amount of oiliness stays in the mouth. Then it goes from sweet to bitter to sweet to bitter a few times before tapering off.

Finish: Long and lingering.

Conclusion: Light the fuse - it's a ‘Dronachbomb.

Cask: #3273 Year: 1994 Age: 20yrs Type: PX ABV: 53.3

Appearance: Deep mahogany (a shade lighter than cask #3398)

Nose: Deep fruity sherry (obviously), savoiardi (French currant sponge fingers that my Daughters have been scoffing recently), lots of sherry-infused puddings and moist Xmas cake.

Palate: Not as sweet as the nose suggests, but really bloody great. A beautifully refined marriage of the sherry, wood, and spirit. A proper 'sit down and shut the world out' dram

Finish: Long with a gentle woody bitterness that gently tapers away and leaves the mouth coated in layers of flavours.

Conclusion: This is more like it - my kind of dram.

Cask: #3398 Year: 1994 Age: 20 Type: PX ABV: 53.2

Appearance: Deep Mahogany

Nose: Big sherry hit, and again that typical lovely seasonal Xmas cake. There's a slight sour note going on somewhere, but a pleasant one. You could actually just hold this in your hands and nose it for ages. Very elegant.

Palate: Waves of rich, dark, deep and sticky sweet sherry flow over the tongue. Very refined and full of depth. The oak presence works really well and doesn't dominate. Lots of sherry and ripe fruit.

Finish: Long, with an old and rich gentle chilli-tingle. Very aromatic with a really faint undertone of grass and an agreeable spent matchstick-linger (sulphur, but it works here)

Conclusion: Fabulous.This is what GlenDronach is all about. Are these 1994 casks becoming the new contenders for the famous 1993's?

Cask: #1375 Year: 1990 Age: 25 Type: PX ABV: 51.6

Appearance: Dark amber

Nose: Boozy-spiced prunes. Caramel, vanilla and peanut brittle. You can definitely smell the PX infused oak staves of the barrel. Almost zero spirit burn.

Palate: Lovely deep sweet sherry with a nuttiness. Toffee (like the round flat ones you find in a tin of Quality Street)

Finish: Medium to long with again, a slight spent matchstick linger

Conclusion: For me, it ended up being a middle-weight sherry beast, rather than the heavyweight I was hoping for. But it's definitely up for a fight in your mouth.

Cask: #706 Year: 1972 Age: 43yrs Type: PX ABV: 51.1

Appearance: Dark Mahogany

Nose: Amazing. Just fabulous. Absolutely no spirit burn at all. Over-ripe and plump raisins give way to tinned prunes, Armagnac, old and aged wooden furniture, spiced ripe fruit, crispy bacon drizzled in maple syrup, custard. And there's a slight sourness/tartness (maybe a hint of citrus peel) I'd wear this as aftershave.

Palate: Gentle sweetness that's immediately followed by a really aged oak tannins and gentle pepper. Sherry trifle, black cherries, cooked pears, and velvety rich chocolate. I love this, no, I really do.

Finish: Long and refined. Very subtle fruit and even more subtle tobacco play around in the back of the mouth.

Conclusion: I could nose and sip this for hours. Absolutely magnificent.

Overall Conclusion…

So, all 9 bottles from batch #12 reviewed. There are 2 that really stand out for me, cask #706 and cask #3398.

Given the 42-year old is a pricey beast, and not every buyer will actually open it to appreciate its beauty (or be able to justify parting with the cash), but trade it as a commodity, I'm choosing cask #3398 as my winner. But it was so close.

I'd also say that the 11 year-old cask #5524 is worthy of a mention as it is a belter as well - given it's only 11 years old, it was punching above its weight.

1st place: Cask #3398

2nd place: Cask #706

3rd place: Cask #5524


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