Glendronach has gone through a number of changes since the last time I reviewed their core lineup. The 15 Year disappeared for three years due to supply constraints, returning after their warehouses filled up sufficiently. Maybe more importantly, the group that they were a part of with Benriach and Glenglassaugh was sold to Brown-Forman in 2016, removing them as some of the few remaining (major) independent distilleries in Scotland.
But ultimately it's about the whisky. This is aged exclusively in oloroso sherry casks, then bottled at 46% without coloring or chill filtration. According to the math, this whisky is far older than it says on the bottle and will be until new stocks become available next year.
I purchased this sample from Whiskysite.nl
Glendronach 18 Year
Nose: rich, dry oloroso sherry, cocoa powder, vanilla, citrus (lemon), sour unripe fruit, baked apples, clean malt underneath. After adding a few drops of water the chocolate notes are amplified over everything else, the sherry becomes sweeter and fudgier, more sour malt emerges, and a little oak comes out.
Taste: thick, bittersweet sherry up front with citrus peel in the background, a slightly sour overlay throughout, fades into sweeter sherry with moderately tannic oak at the back. After dilution it becomes softer and sweeter overall, with less oak and more floral malt at the back, and slightly washed out flavors
Finish: nutty sherry, dry dark chocolate, mild oak tannins with a smoky edge, citrus peel, sweet malt
In all honesty, I feel like Glendronach's spirit is getting a little long in the tooth. This is still almost as good as I remember it, but the oak is starting to get the upper hand in a way that detracts from the spirit. But some of that might just be the effects of packaging this as a sample, so I'm still seriously thinking about grabbing a few bottles before the reset next year. The reviews of the rebooted Glendronach Revival make me suspicious that the new spirit won't measure up to what was made with old stocks, especially if they decide to throw PX sherry casks into the mix to give the product extra 'depth'.
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