Formerly a Teacher's pet
Glendronach is a distillery that is located close to the town of Huntly, at the south eastern tip of the Speyside whisky region in Scotland. The distillery was founded in 1826 by James Allardes and later went on to become an important part of the William Teacher & Sons empire. By the 1960s, most of the whisky produced at Glendronach was being used within the popular Teacher's blended range. The distillery is relatively small with an annual capacity of 1.4 million litres and was the last distillery to use coal fires to heat its stills. The use of this traditional heating method died out when Glendronach's stills were converted to steam heating in 2005.
New independent owners
In 2008, Glendronach was given a new lease of life, following a period of closure. The distillery was taken over an independent company called The Benriach Distillery Company Ltd, who are the innovative owners of another Speyside distillery at Benriach. They immediately made a decision to expand the range of Glendronach whisky that previously contained just a 12 years old and a limited edition 33 years old. They found sufficient maturing stock to add this 15 years old and an 18 years old to the range and these were released in mid 2009. Their plan is to increase the popularity and availability of Glendronach and capitalise on the world's current trend for quality single malts, especially the sherry cask matured whiskies for which Glendronach is renowned.
Our tasting notes
The subtitle of this 15 years old is Revival to commemorate the re-opening of the distillery in 2008 and it is bottled at 46% ABV. It has been matured in Oloroso sherry casks and should cost £40-45 a bottle from specialist whisky and spirit retailers. The colour is a deep golden amber and the nose is rich and full of character. There is plenty of dark dried fruits to begin with (think of raisins, prunes and add in some candied orange peel) and this is backed up with notes of prominent caramel (or maybe toffee?), some wood spice (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg), an aroma of waxy furniture polish, hints of espresso coffee and milk chocolate and a tiny whiff of sulphur (think of a match head that has just been struck). The palate is full bodied, rich and rounded with many of the characteristics from the nose present - dried fruit (the candied orange is especially prominent), caramel (this is a little more like manufactured honeycomb - that stuff that you can buy at fairgrounds or sweet shops), wood spice, hints of chocolate and coffee - plus some honey and toasted almond notes. The finish is decent but shorter than expected, considering the richness. It also becomes increasingly woody and very dry.
What's the verdict?
Glendronach 15 years old is a good example of a higher aged sherry cask matured whisky. It is rich, full bodied and packed with character, although we found the finish slightly disappointing after the lovely nose and palate that it had presented. This would be a good after dinner dram or one to have with a cigar and is worth a try if you like other drinks such as darker brandies or rums. This Revival also offers decent value for money.