Glendronach, a Speyside distillery, was founded in 1826 by James Alardice. It is named after the source of water from which the distillery draws its stock – dronach burn is the source of water. The name “dronach” means “brambles”, so the distillery name itself translates to the valley of brambles. Generally, the production of Glendronach whiskies are of high quality, relatively affordable, and well presented- without colour or chill filtration. Indeed, this whisky is almost sherry coloured! This whisky uses a combination of PX casks and Olosoro casks for the maturation of the whisky.
Nose: A good chunk of sherry here, also with apple seeds, cinnamon stewed apples, baked banana, caramel, fruitcake – all with an interesting thread of peat giving an almost bbq sauce edge to this, or, perhaps, a sense of caramelized dried fruits – like if you ever roast dried apricots in the oven (say with meat). It’s a bit bready, too. Then there’s vanilla and lightly creamy grain which you don’t sense right away – but shortly after. Quite a rich, complex nose…but there is too much sherry and too little whisky, though the malt is not lost either. It does open up well with time, and you get a bit less sherry overload and more of the whisky coming through, partially because of the growth of the vanilla. 26/30 (87%)
Taste: A lot less sherry than you expect because the nose is so full of it – instead, some strong barley before the oak and coconut takes the lead, finally all giving way to the sweet sherry and peat smoke. A bit of a spicy feel and taste! – cinnamon, clove, turmeric- on the end. The mouthfeel is good, and this works together, but I think sherry and peat are quite difficult to match well together and, overall, the components seem to dance around each other rather than dance together (but they don’t fight though) – but there’s nothing negative here. As the bottle is open and it has time to aerate the palate improves, I find, and it becomes a bit softer. 26.5/30 (88%)
Finish: Spicy, and dry – with woody spices intriguingly held down by the sweet sherry. Vanilla, the “sauna” cedar flavour, raisins, and some dried blueberries, too, nicely woven in. A lot of sherry nuttiness and woodiness here, and the oak lingers for some time. 18/20 (90%)
Conclusion: Quite a complex, medium-to-heavy malt. It’s quite interesting with all the different flavours that are being balanced, but there are a lot of big flavours and I’m not quite sure what the story is. Overall, a bit too much sherry and too little whisky I think. All this said, it’s still nicely put together, and well worth a go, or two, or three…17.5/20 (88%)