Well, we might as well finish the year with something a bit more statesmanlike. How about a 27 year old whisky from GlenDronach? And you know what, no grumpiness, no hitting people over the head with ideas of what a good whisky should be, no kicking people for not thinking there is more to whisky than some marketing story. Just a quick wee dram from one of my favourite Scotch distilleries.
Yes, I have forgiven them for not knowing what terroir is – 99.9% of Scottish producers haven’t a clue, or just don’t care, so I can look over that for now. Instead, let us just rejoice in a splendidly aged sherry matured GlenDronach, which is absolutely the sort of thing I know I’ll enjoy, but which means I come into this expecting good things. Which is to say, it has a lot to live up to.
This is one of the limited edition big boys of the GlenDronach range. It is a vatting of PX and oloroso sherry puncheons and butts, some of which date back to the 1960s. Only 2293 bottles make the cut for batch 10, and it’s bottled at a still robust 50.1% ABV. It will set you back about £450, which tends to be at the steep end. And naturally, I didn’t buy a bottle! Good lord, I have nursery fees to pay, mouths to feed, my wife would bury me under the patio if I paid this much (or rather, she found out I paid this much). This was a sample, of course, but you know we lead the high life at Malt, nothing but parties in 5 star hotels and Ferraris or something like that.
But I do take time to remind people – our Jason included! – that single malts will bring more flavour to the table than single casks. Which is to say, there’s more in the mix, more going on, there’s more human element to the blending, consideration, rather than just finding something interesting – though tasty – at the back of the warehouse, and shoving it out there for a few quid. There are, quite simply, more flavours on show; and if we like flavours, then we should prefer a combination of casks, no? Or do we celebrate often questionable single casks because that’s all we mere mortals can afford these days?
GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 10 – Review
Colour: burnt umber, old oak. Massively dark!
On the nose: oof, treacle-tastic. Molasses, in fact. Heavy, rich, figs and prunes galore. You know the stuff. And yet, what’s surprising is there’s barely any heavy woodiness, or mustiness; and yes, a slight edge of black truffle, earthy rather than tea-like or woody as one might expect. Once the heavy stuff drifts away, some more elegant notes come through: apricots, cranberries, mince pie filling. Hints of rice pudding, but wholemeal toast and plum jam.
In the mouth: that is a gorgeous set of flavours, absolutely monstrous in expression, and yet not at all one-sided. (Balance is why single casks just rarely hit the top marks – they’re not as complex, never forget that, compared to single malts, with more to contribute to style, balance, finesse, flavour.) Velvety, with a much wider spectrum of high and low notes compared to a standard GlenDronach single cask; still with the heavy sherry bass. Slightly nutty – hazelnut with dark chocolate, Turkish Delight, orange marmalade at the high end, Assam tea. Again, no mustiness that one might expect of an aged sherry beast, not even remotely woody. This is absolutely the best after dinner, sitting by the fire, ignoring the family dram you’ll find.
Absolutely not for sharing; be utterly selfish. Merry Christmas.