It’s been a few months since the Brown-Forman Corporation snapped up GlenDronach distillery, along with BenRiach and Glenglassaugh, for £281 million. Their press material at the time said that “we look forward to continue building them around the globe”.
In my mind, that means rationalising the extraordinary number of bottlings that GlenDronach produces, in order to sell more whisky at better margins to more people. It’s no different to what happened at Bruichladdich, another favourite of mine, since Rémy Cointreau took over. Most of GlenDronach’s releases come in the form of single casks bottled for retailers or even various waves of single cask releases. And I’ve reviewed several of these unusual offerings on the site. (Indeed, these two whiskies today will take me up to 14 GlenDronach reviews on Malt.)
But we’ve seen very little in the way of changes to the product lines at the moment, other than the fact that the core range bottles have gone up in price in the past month by about 15%. I can’t help but wonder if we’ll start to see an end to these myriad of unusual bottlings too, which would be both a shame and a little easier on my wallet.
Anyway, here are two more of their limited releases. The first is the 6th in their Cask Strength series bottled at 56.1% ABV and costs about £50. It’s been matured in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, but as with all these releases in the series, there is no age statement. The second is a 14-year-old whisky finished in Marsala hogsheads after spending most of its life in European oak casks. It’s bottled at 46% ABV, costs £60 upwards, but appears to be mostly sold out already.
GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 6 Review
Colour: oloroso sherry.
On the nose: big on the dried fruits: sultanas, dried apricots in particular. Toffee. Madeira cake. A hint of Tiramisu. Pouring honey. Dried orange slices and mixed peel. Not heady: it’s all on the lighter side, and so quite fresh. Lightly toasted wholemeal bread.
In the mouth: A lot of warming cinnamon and wood spice. Stem ginger. Floral honey. Sultanas and apricots; not so much oranges here, maybe tangerines. Lime marmalade. Barley sugar. Just a little bit of cherries, and also fennel in the background. Really impressive stuff for the price.
Curiously I have a drop of the Batch 5 to compare it against. Whilst I won’t re-review, it’s interesting to put them face to face. They’re very similar, but Batch 5 seems slightly more heady, with deeper tones to it; Batch 6 has a little more zest. (I suppose the difference between using more PX sherry casks compared to Oloroso?) Think of it as heather honey verses floral honey. I personally prefer the former, which was a wonderful whisky, but the 6 still remains excellent value and a tasty addition to the Cask Strength series.
GlenDronach 14 Year Old Marsala Cask Finish Review
Colour: burnished gold.
On the nose: very sweet and winey before you get to any of the fruits. A golden syrup start. Old roses. Quite fresh with apricots, stewed apples and lemon zest leading into stem ginger. Lemon drizzle cake! The syrup returns.
In the mouth: warming ginger and syrup. Toffee apple. Fudge. Floral honey. Wave after wave of vanilla, and it’s quite intensely sweet. Sultanas and a nice maltiness. Parmaviolets. Sea spray and a touch of chilli pepper heat towards the finish. Just a little too sweet for my tastes. A bit skewed and not especially GlenDronach-y.
I’d happily buy a bottle of the Cask Strength Batch 6 but, if you can, get the better Batch 5. And as for the GlenDronach Marsala finish? Well, if you have a sweet tooth, then maybe this is for you, but it didn’t especially rock my world. And as a fan of this distillery, I find myself being extra critical.
Thanks to Chris at Gauntleys for the sample swap!