Re-tasted and Re-evaluated.
Try as I might, I can not love this whisky. I first reviewed it a couple of years back, and after having dipped my beak into the fantastic 15 year and other older variants, I began to second guess my earlier appraisal of this 12 year old. I went at it completely independently of my previous marks and scores. Interestingly enough, with absolutely no idea as to how I had initially broken down my scoring, I differentiated in only one place (the nose), and by a mere half point.
In an attempt to allow this bad boy to sparkle a bit, I threw together a bit of an informal horizontal tasting. Four 12 year old sherried malts from the Highlands/Speyside regions went head to head. The results were…unspectacular. All good. None exceptional. Though I figured this may come out on top…it actually ranked in the bottom. Sorry…ain’t gonna tell what the others were.
GlenDronach is a Highland Distillery of some esteem, and rightfully so. Founded in 1826, they have been producing fine whisky for just shy of 200 years. In recent times (2008) GlenDronach has been taken over by BenRiach. The tradition of crafting bold sherried scotch whisky has not flagged in the least.
Though all of the hallmarks of sherry cask maturation are present, there is one element that knocked me back a step; the one-two punch on the nose. First sherry (no surprise)…then wham! Massive fists of malted barley pummel the olfactory senses. Bold barley cereal notes are overwhelmingly front and center on the nose here. When I finally got my head around this I was able to suss out some rum-soaked fruitcake notes (figs and raisin, I think), orange and a toasted marshmallow creaminess. Though not bad, it sounds more pleasant than it is.
The barley, sherry and sweet citrus develop on the palate as well, dipping and dodging the oak notes. The arrival is firm, if unexceptional. It moves on into drier fruits and a lingering oak whimper at the end.
If not for a bit too much cereal roughness (which is long ironed out by the 15 year expression) this would score higher.
Enjoyable, but a little disappointing.
Now…let’s go back to the beginning, in referencing the 15 (and other releases as well). Though I can’t say the 12 y.o. does much for me, everything from the 15 year mark and on is really, really worthwhile. GlenDronach, along with sister distillery Benriach, has some of the greatest old stores around. Hit up some of those exceptional single casks if you can. Those from the ’70s, in particular.
- Reviewed by: Curt
- Photo: Curt