The GlenDronach distillery in the Scottish Highlands had been dark for years, but the Scotch boom of the 1990s led to it being restarted in 2002 in order to take obvious advantage of the trend. Now part of the Chivas empire, the distillery’s first new-era products are now live, with 12, 15, and 18 Year Old bottlings just now hitting the market. (I’m not entirely clear how a distillery that began operating again eight years ago can have an 18 year old single malt whisky, but I’ll let someone from the distillery chime in on that one.)
Here are some thoughts on the three big new releases you’ll be seeing soon.
GlenDronach 12 Year Old – Amazing sweetness, with a big sherry kick. Lots of honey and nougat, with a rich body and just a touch of smoke in there to keep things interesting. The finish is long but bracing with sugar, which may play down any nuance in this malt. 86 proof. A- / $50
GlenDronach 15 Year Old – Surprisingly darker in color than the 12 Year, with a considerably different flavor profile, too. For starters, it’s richer, with much more wood character. More citrus here, too, but the sweetness is played down. It’s also surprisingly hotter, with more bite. Yes, it’s 92 proof, but the burn is more about those oily wood overtones than the extra alcohol. While enjoyable and quite delicious at times, I found myself gravitating back to the 12, a little put off by the tough finish. B+ / $80
GlenDronach 18 Year Old – Again, three short years give this malt a wildly different perspective. The wood now dominates completely, drowning away the sweetness and sherry influence in the younger whiskys. Kind of a mocha kick, with notes of coal, raisin, and dark chocolate. Less complex than it sounds — like the 15 it is overwhelmed by wood, though the finish, once you push past the heat, offers substantial charm. B+ / $115