There’s nothing so much that saps the joy out of life like the word consistency. It’s a dreadful, Coca Cola-esque word. Blending whisky for consistency is the Middle-England, Daily Express-reading, Nissan Qashqai-driving, Nigel Farage-voting philosophy of the whisky world. We want things how they were, just like the last time, no changing things, please. We yearn for yesteryear, not how they could possibly be.
If you want the same whisky the world over, time and time again, you will find yourselves uninvited to my parties. (Look, yes it’s correct I don’t have parties, I have a 2-year-old kid and no social life, but my point still stands.) I enjoy variety in my drinks: the more, the better. The more intellectual stimulation, the more variables, the more genuine a story the better.
Which brings me to the GlenDronach Revival – or rather, to steal Adam’s pun from under his nose: the GlenDronach Revival Revival. For this is a resurrection of the famed15 year old, the one that was actually an 18 year old, just like the 18 used to be a 21 year old. This was because of the trickery in GlenDronach’s stock management back when the distillery was resurrected, a gap in production due to its silent period, and the desire for an old-school whisky list.
Irrespective of what I type, many of you – those hardcore GlenDronach fans especially – will have already made up their minds on this whisky. You’ll almost definitely say it wasn’t as good as the original from several years ago, and that’s fine. But it’s not my point today.
My question is: can this really be called the same whisky? Should this really be called the same whisky?
It’s the trap of these age statements – where a distillery is known for its Whatever Year Old. It must perform cartwheels for its audience. No longer is it about putting out the best whisky, but rather it is blending to that dreaded word, that word I loathe: consistency. We are recreating things. We are looking backwards, which is a problem I have with Scotch whisky culture in general.
It is not a progressive industry in the slightest. The regulations prohibit innovation, and that’s possibly why many love Scotch whisky to begin with. So much so that the word innovation is really meaningless in Scotch, and leads to the inane, hopeless marketing copy that wraps around so many bottle labels.
So we look backwards, like a William Morris-esque philosophy, convincing ourselves we’re in some liquid form of the Arts and Crafts movement. Culturally the Scotch industry has got itself into a horrible limbo where drinkers are becoming antiquarians, stockpiling dusty old shit merely because it is old, not because it is any good, but because drinkers of yesteryear refuse to acknowledge the prices of tomorrow. They tell themselves the antiques are great by today’s whisky standards because those same antiquarians turn a blind eye to the stunning world whisky scene, and the fact that there has never been a better time to enjoy whisky.
Perhaps with this release, GlenDronach looks backwards, too. As a fan of the previous incarnation in many respects, yes, it’s nice to see a GlenDronach 15 Year Old back on the shelves. But to call it the Revival? Or the Revival Revival? Why not something else? Why not any other name? Why not let a classic be a classic and bring out a tremendous new name?
Because this new GlenDronach Revival is a tremendous whisky, let’s not pretend otherwise.
GlenDronach Revival – 15 Years Old
On the nose: Huge notes of dried sultanas, dried oranges, Tiramisu. Golden syrup, heather honey, it’s heady stuff indeed. Hazelnut praline, dark chocolate.
In the mouth: Big, oily GlenDronach – those fat stills doing their thing. It echoes the nose perfectly: the lighter end of the dried fruits, sultanas and apricots, with a lovely ginger warmth just underneath. Gooey salted caramel. A few cereal notes: not especially malty, but pleasant. Crème brûlée, burnt toffee (just a fraction) with a few herbal notes. Put the finer details aside, it’s just ridiculously drinkable. The flavours are so well defined, the layers of complexity pleasant though not intellectually overwhelming. Long, lovely finish of orange marmalade and cinnamon. I could drink lots of this…
It’s a gorgeous single malt. It’s a lovely, lovely whisky indeed. This is warming, classy, charming – and should appeal to a broad spectrum of drinkers. Is it the same as the last? No. Is it better? Don’t care, can’t remember. This is a hoot.
It’s £62 a bottle so just buy it, for goodness sake, because it’s probably the nicest Scotch you’ll find at that price.
There is a commission link in this review, which never affects our opinion.
This sounds delicious and I’m tempted to get a bottle despite £50-55 normally being my upper limit. Could you tell me what the abv is? Can see it’s non-chill-filtered and natural colour from the photo but can’t quite make out the percentage.
Hi Robbie. It’s 46% ABV – so that’s a very good bottling strength (actually, it’s really what most single malts should be as a starting point).
When is it actually available online to buy,as nobody is giving out a precise date!
From what I understand, it’s available at the distillery for the first month or so and then it’s being rolled out worldwide.
Thanks Mark – I agree that 46% should be the minimum in most cases (looked a bit like 43 in the blurry photo) and glad that’s confirmed before I consider spending the equivalent of a week’s JSA on a bottle.
Great review. I agree on both your main views here. It would be a good idea to call it Glendronach 15 and it IS a very very good whisky indeed. It’s not fair to compare it to the old version. Thanks for a very entertaining, informative, honest and different whisky magazine from you, Jason and the others!
Yeah and well said about consistancy. It’s boring if things stay the same forever. Unless the inconsistancy slowly leads to less quality over time, I am all for changes between batches.
*it would be a good idea to call it Glendronach 15 SomethingElse..
Thanks for the kind words, Rolf! Yes it wouldn’t have been that much effort to call it something else – preserve the Revival, and give this a new name. Someone suggested that if the new owners were ever going to redesign the packaging, now would have been the ideal time too.
Hello, does it contain any nuts?? or is that just the flavour?
From what I’ve noticed, the nuts get contained after 3 or 4 glasses, but not earlier than that.
And it may be the flavour, but it’s likely the alcohol…