For sherry fans, GlenDronach is a must. It’s a mainstay for me when I’m in a (non-peated) sherry mood, along with Glenfarclas and Aberlour. (No shade to those who gravitate toward Tamdhu, Mortlach, or Macallan.)
The Glendronach Cask Strength is the most potent sherry punch the Highlands distillery offers–and as the new Batch 8 rings in at 61% ABV, it’s potent indeed. (The Batch 3, by comparison, was a “mere” 54.9%.)
Interestingly, the massive nose on the Batch 8 shows bourbon-like notes alongside the obvious sherry. (For the record, maturation was a mixture of Pedro Ximénez puncheons, quarter casks and Oloroso sherry butts, and the distillery offers an age statement of 10 years–a departure from the more common no-age-statement sherry bombs.)
At full strength, I got buttery caramel first, then pomegranate syrup. Strawberry jam. Watermelon. Caramel apple. The palate was very juicy, with strong apple again. Surprisingly sweet finish, with apple pie spices, then raspberry tea. Zero tannic edge.
That’s all at full strength. And let’s be honest: only the truly grizzled (*ahem*) are likely to drink it at full strength.
Even they shouldn’t. Because this dram really shows its stuff with a splash of water. Now the nose brings big hits of brown sugar and dark leather. The palate lights up with a new boldness–almost electricity–darkness, depth, fire, and spice. The now goes on forever, and the sweetness is balanced by just enough tannins. Toasted marshmallow mellows into soft leather, then just a hint of licorice.
The 25-year-old GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 brings me back to…high school? Well, the vintage year does, but my tastes ran more to diner coffee and mozzarella sticks at the time. To be fair, the new make wasn’t at its best back then either.
Fast forward a quarter century, and you’ve got a very refined, very impressive dram.
The nose is quite dense, all sherry. (Interesting how much more intense it is than the far more potent Cask Strength–that’s what time in good wood does for you.) Fig. Milk chocolate. Black forest cake. There’s that pomegrate syrup again.
The mouthfeel has huge texture, but not at the cost of balance. I love it. The palate’s a little tight at first, but just a drop of water and it blooms exquisitely. Dense sherry fruits with restrained sweetness, rich oak, and vinous fresh berry notes. Leather and spice lead the transition to the finish. Heavy ginger and clove, and increasing dryness as the finish goes on. Black tea and sour cherry toward the end.
Two fine drams from ‘Dronach heading in to the holiday season. Any sherry lover would be lucky to have them.
Cheers, friends! – BO