By Richard Thomas
Like all of the older Scottish distilleries, GlenDronach has a storied history, but is now part of the BenRiach stable. The distillery started in 1826, a time when sherry cask aging was the norm. However, those sherry barrels weren’t cheap, and economics drove many distilleries to experiment with other forms of wood, such as used American bourbon barrels. GlenDronach is one of the very few that stuck with sherry for primary maturation for its entire history, and is therefore a true Speyside “Sherry House.” A good place to start with understanding what that means is their basic expression, the GlenDronach 12 Year Old.
Bottled at 43% abv, this 12 year old has a very rich coloring for a single malt. It’s dark, but more orange than amber, and something like a well-oiled piece of copper.
The nose has a rich, creamy texture that makes the grainy notes very pleasant. That graininess is underscored by a woodiness, and a sweet note of vanilla and apple and pear scent.
The flavor is contrasts a certain silky, dried fruits sweetness against sherry oak and a gingery, spicy tinge. It’s a good, balanced sipper that doesn’t make you chase after what its about. The finish is long, clear and warm, with a bit of grain and toffee in the aftertaste.
I’ve seen GlenDronach 12 Year Old listed on American websites for around $48, and in Europe it goes for around €42.