The “true” age of the GlenDronach line
You may have read the Words of Whisky article about the GlenDronach core-range being a lot older than the age statement on the label…
“The distillery was closed from 1996 until 2001, and that gap of six years forces GlenDronach to use older whisky than necessary. The 12yo Original was released in 2009, so should’ve been at least partly distilled in 1997. Except that wasn’t a possibility. So the first batch of 12yo GlenDronach was already actually at least 14 years old. If you bought a 12yo in 2013, you actually got a 18 year old whisky. The same also works for the 15yo Revival, 18yo Allardice and 21yo Parliament. At certain peak moments you’re buying a whisky that is actually six years older than is stated on the bottle. All of the above almost sounds to good to be true, but it is. Firstly because numbers don’t lie, and secondly because it was confirmed to Bert Rutkowski during a visit to the distillery in the summer of 2013.”
The graph below shows the “true” age of each bottling in each year. The article does seem compelling, but just like anything you read on the internet, you can be skeptical.
GlenDronach 12 Original, 43% ABV, $72 CAD (2016 bottling, *12 years old)
- Nose: Sherry up front, plums, spice, oak, and a slight citrus note.
- Taste: Sherry again (get used to me saying that), a lot of raisin, nice chocolate note, MacDonalds Apple Pie, toffee, and oak.
- Finish: Medium length, oak lingers, with a slight alcohol note. Not overly complex.
- Thoughts: Fairly decent entry level. Not quite at Macallan 12 quality, but approaching it. Certainly better than most 12 year sherries.
- Score: 84 – 1 value point(s) = 83/100
GlenDronach 15 Revival, 46% ABV, $135 CAD (2015 bottling, *20 years old)
- Nose: Big heavy sherry, strawberry jam, Maynards Blush Berries candy, floral roses.
- Taste: Sweet sherry, chinese sweet and sour red sauce, raisins, fudge, slight mint hard candy, saltwater taffy, Haribo Giant Strawberry candy, wood tannins, and wood smoke.
- Finish: Long, powerful, sherry lingers.
- Thoughts: Ultimate sherry bomb! Dronach 15 is to sherry what Ardbeg is to peat… hard hitting and in your face. The oak notes in the 12 were tolerated, but are welcomed here. I cannot get enough of this! Literally… its hard to find. Stocking up while I can. If this is 20 year juice, what amazing value!
- Score: 90 + 2 value point(s) = 92/100
GlenDronach 18 Allardice, 46% ABV, $175 CAD (2015 bottling, *20 years old)
- Nose: Do I need to say sherry again? Nutmeg, chocolate fudge, ginger snap cookies, sugar cookies, vanilla, dates, oak.
- Taste: Chocolate fudge, raisins, dates, walnuts, red plums, and heavy oak.
- Finish: Layered, complex, drying which then leaves a nice spicyness.
- Thoughts: Well shit, this is just as much a sherry bomb as the 15. Quite similar in profile actually. Maybe because they are both Oloroso and similar in age? The oak influence seems a little more prominent here, it was more integrated in the 15, but all around great whisky.
- Score: 90 + 0.5 value point(s) = 90.5/100
GlenDronach 21 Parliament, 48% ABV, £97 (2016 bottling, *21 years old)
- Nose: The obvious sherry stuff, some really nice coffee elements, getting some of those older dust and leather notes. Fresh wood, and wood smoke.
- Taste: Really nice dark chocolate, plums, apricots, and dates blast off your palate, oak again, and toffee.
- Finish: Big and long, chocolate lingers.
- Thoughts: I love the added sweetness and complexity the Pedro Ximinez brings. Very juicy and bold fruit notes are what edges this slightly above the rest. Really good stuff!
- Score: 91 + 0 value point(s) = 91/100
GlenDronach is winning the sherry game. I think the 12 has a few rough edges, but the 15, 18, and 21 are all exceptional. The 15 wins as the value pushes it to the top, but all the older expressions were very similar and very good. There is a underlying tangy oak note that is present in all four bottles, it isn’t unpleasant, but other whiskies (like Macallan) have done it better. Obviously the next Revival release won’t be as old as this bottling, I doubt they can afford to keep putting 20 year old scotch in a 15 year age statement, but hopefully the profile stays as close as possible. That being said the 18 and 21 should be getting even older, so their quality shouldn’t lessen. If you’re a sherry person the Revival, Allardice or Parliament are musts.
After my initial score I will add or subtract points relative on how I perceive value (based on what I paid for the bottle). A zero value means I think the price is justified.