Abbey Whisky vs. Green Welly Stop - Head-to-Head
If ever there was a head-to-head that needed doing, this is it. Abbey Whisky & The Green Welly Stop both chose extra special casks to celebrate their respective Anniversaries, and were released fairly close to each other.
Both from 1993, these casks had to be good and show us all that when GlenDronach produce something very special, it’s done in such a way that it will blow your wig right off your head and send it flying through the air.
The casks selected were #652 & #653, and are so similar in appearance, smell, & taste, that it's not immediately obvious what the differences are, but there are some. And very subtle they are as well.
They are both absolutely amazing cask selections, and are amongst the most powerful and concentrated GlenDronach's I've ever had.
The small differences and influences I did pick up after re-visiting again and again and again are listed at the end of this review.
For those of you who bought one or both and are not sure whether to open a bottle, do it.
GlenDronach / 1993 / #652 / 24yrs / 60.6% / Sherry Butt
Specially bottled for Abbey Whisky's 10th Anniversary
This is a special bottling of the infamous year of 1993 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Abbey Whisky. Those who are familiar with Abbey Whisky and Mike Sharples know that they have a 6th sense for sniffing out and choosing outstanding casks from distillery warehouses. Cask #33 was the first, followed by #3400 a short time later. Both of which were outstanding. This latest GlenDronach bottle is just as impressive and packs a massive punch. A 60.6% punch.
Appearance: Red Mahogany. Long, thick and unhurried oily legs.
Nose: Absolutely ridiculous sherry. It's so concentrated it's verging on a sherry reduction. Masses of tinned plums, soggy booze-drenched raisins, rich fruit cake and black cherries. This is what a GlenDronach nose stands for, in all its sherrybomb glory. That lovely old waxy antique furniture polish comes through with a handful of wet pear drops that have been left in the warehouse to soak in the damp dunnage-air. Then there's a welcomed velvety milk chocolate, warm caramel, and a whiff of Turkish coffee. Everything is sweet, sherried, and is a diabetics worst nightmare. Glorious.
Palate: Rich and sherry-sweet, thick and oily. It's big, bold, and brazen. And it knows it, but you know there's more to come. Light bitterness appears paired with a crackling of pepper on the tongue. Concentrated tinned prune juice, runny caramel sauce, thick and dark heavy sherry, and rich vanilla custard just ooze all over the tongue and cover the mouth in a rich tingly oiliness. A medium-bitter espresso dryness then spreads to the sides of the tongue and the back of the throat.
Finish: Very long and sweet. A liquorice bitterness hangs around on the tongue with a lingering dryness. The switch from sweet to dry to sweet to dry goes on and on. It's rich, oily and thick.
Water adds... Increased furniture polish, dark soy sauce, black cherries and custard on the nose, with softer but more refined sweetness and liquorice bitterness on the palate. The finish is drier with a more pronounced white pepper studding.
Conclusion: Powerful on all levels. Simply put - if you are a fan of sweet & rich explosive GlenDronach sherrybombs, this will tick all your boxes with a heavy-leaded pencil. It's a 'shock and awe' attack of sherriness, but with refinement. Its powerful sweet-frontage is backed up by a layering of hidden complexity, but I think the complexity is eased out with a drop of water.
GlenDronach / 1993 / #653 / 24yrs / 60.4% / Sherry Butt
Specially bottled for Green Welly Stop’s 10th Year online.
Another anticipated dark destroyer of a sherrybomb coming out of 1993, this 10th Anniversary celebration of Green Welly Stops online store packs a punch Anthony Joshua would be proud of. And when it appeared online, it was gone in a matter of minutes. They’ve moved away from young single casks that have been exclusively bottled for them in the past, and taken on a proper vintage from an infamous year.
Appearance: Red Mahogany. Long, thick and slow oily legs.
Nose: Huge amounts of thick and rich sherry. Again, it’s like a concentration of a whole bottle that’s been distilled into a single whiff. After the sweet-hit on the nose, there comes a vegetal element with a slight damp dustiness. More sweet aromas in the form of prunes, dark fruit compote, molasses, dried & soured cherries, candied peel, fruitcake spice, and beeswax furniture polish. Now a new element lurking in the background like bbq’d meat appears. Then caramel, and finally an unexpected but not unpleasant whiff of cowshed. That must be linked to the damp dusty and vegetal notes.
Palate: Extremely rich, thick & heavy sherry – which if that wasn’t the case judging by the colour, I’d give up and turn to drinking cocoa. Talking of which, there is a cocoa-chocolatey quality, supported by heavily roasted coffee beans. The sweetness then moves over and allows quite a powerful dryness and natural liquorice stick woody bitterness to appear that dries the mouth. The final sensation in the mouth is a layer oily treacle with a peppery bite and a hint of vanilla.
Finish: Ludicrously long with heaps of black treacle mixed with a little cigar ash. The bitter-sweetness stays on the tongue for an age, whilst the chilli-crackle fades away. The cigar ash linger then morphs into a light and faint extinguished match head (a little sulphurous but very, very faint)
More vegetal notes and Play-Doh on the nose, drier sweetness & oaky woodiness on the palate. And the finish also has an increased level of bitter dryness.
Conclusion: Yet again, this is a huge and massive sherried whisky with every trademark of a GlenDronach, but on steroids. There’s no need to try and say much more really, as I think you probably get the gist of it.
That was the hardest part – which cask is better? Which one deserves to be on the podium holding that gold trophy? Well, there is no winner. Or said another way, they can both share the space on the podium and fight over the trophy because they are both total works of art.
They are hugely similar - but the more time you spend with them, the more the little, subtle differences start to appear and you notice that they each have their own little personality traits.
The easiest way for me to map out the differences was in the table below..