GlenDronach! I like this distillery. So with that in mind, I’m going to continue to bang on about the new GlenDronach 18 Year Old Tawny Port Finish. And I think it says a lot that I kind of bought this whisky on a whim, completely trusting the GlenDronach brand.
In the depths of Aberdeenshire, in the Highlands of Scotland, lies the GlenDronach distillery, which was founded in 1826. Alfred Barnard’s classic, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom (1887) tells of access through a “bleak and uninteresting landscape”, but then of the sudden “delightful woods of the Bognie Estate and the demense of Glendronach”.
It’s fascinating to read that even in the 19th Century the distillery had a fine reputation. If I was a stoner, I’d be completely in awe of that fact for hours – just think, over a hundred years of producing a liquid that people think is top quality? Almost unheard of when you think about your average high street brand. Though GlenDronach was mothballed in 1996, today the distillery is owned by the people at BenRiach, who also own Glenglassaugh – making something of a holy trinity of brilliant distilleries. Independently owned whisky at stupidly good value for money.
The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Tawny Port Finish was matured in European oak and finished its maturation in Tawny Port casks. It’s an update from the previous 15 Year Old port finish and, unlike current trends in whisky production, it sports its age statement with pride.
Colour: auburn, with a little tint of strawberry or peach. On the nose: big hefty creaminess, almost the sort of grain-induced stuff you get in a top quality blend. Blackcurrant, raspberries. Pearl barley. Stewed apples and late autumn puddings, with a dollop of crème fraîche. Dusty, leather-bound books at the back of the library.
In the mouth: gosh, such a lovely texture. Just a huge, waxy smack on the lips. There’s this really nice combination of classic dried fruits with a very different headiness. Big plums, and grape juice. Red currants. But there’s something interesting muting the sweetness, like sour sweets or grapefruit notes. Black tea perhaps. Just a slight hint of pepper, but nothing much. There’s a warming and – I’ll not use this cr*p descriptor often – very smooth finish.
A lovely, lovely whisky, but be prepared for that contradiction between the sweet and sour, even though in the end it leans towards the sweet. I like this kind of thing, personally. I like a nice finish. It’s an easy-drinking after-dinner dram to share with friends, and again represents great value for money. It’s bold enough to impress peat freaks, yet can still entrance those who prefer their sweeter whiskies.
And at around £65 for a fancy-finished 18 Year Old whisky? You’d be silly not to. What are you waiting for?