Highlands-based distillery GlenDronach recently dropped two new releases both built around sherry cask maturation and both created by Master Blender Rachel Barrie. Both Pedro Ximenez and oloroso sherry casks are used in these expressions.
Here’s a look at the pair.
GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 8 – 10 years old, full proof. Heavy on the sherry, quite austere on the nose, showing notes of leather oil, spiced nuts, coffee grounds, and flamed orange peel — all the classic elements of boldly sherried single malt. The palate sees the same elements dominating, a citrus-meets-roasted-nuts character that couldn’t be offer a more iconically sherry-forward if it tried. It’s actually a bit much at times, and the high abv makes for a somewhat overpowering finish, the nutty elements giving the conclusion a somewhat chalky texture and a leathery pungency that can be overwhelming. Nothing that sherry fans can’t handle, of course. 122 proof. B+ / $95
GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 – This cask was laid down in 1993, making it roughly 27 years of age. Here we have a much different animal, just as overwhelming with sherry but tamed thanks to the passage of time. The nose sees a more restrained nuttiness, slightly sweet with a nougat note, and a surprisingly fresher orange peel character. Notes of toasted marshmallow and caramel are readily evident, with a smoldering coffee note underneath. The lower abv on the palate — not to mention the accelerated age — really helps focus the whisky, and while it’s redolent with leather and coffee, the more fragrant notes of toasted baking spices, hazelnuts, and bittersweet cocoa powder are all in full effect. The finish is surprisingly juicy and well-formed, with a lasting conclusion that recalls pipe tobacco and cedar box. 96.4 proof. A / $350