By Kurt Maitland
The Glendronach Distillery has had a relatively tumultuous history. Founded in 1826 by James Allardice, the distillery was almost completely destroyed by fire a decade later. After Allardice’s death, the distillery was taken over by Walter Scott, who ran it until his death in the 1880s.
In 1920, the distillery was bought for £9000 by Charles Grant, the son of the founder of Glenfiddich. The distillery remained the property of the Grant family until 1960, when it was taken over by Teacher’s (who used the Glendronach malt as part of its blend). GlenDronach’s two stills were doubled to four in the late 1960s.
Afterwards, the Glendronach was passed along between different owners. Teacher’s was bought by Allied Brewers, which became Allied Domecq, who were bought by Pernod Ricard in 2005. In 2005, one of Pernod’s first acts as the new owner of the distillery was to close it to convert GlenDronach’s direct coal-fired stills to indirect steam-heated coils.
In 2008, Pernod sold Glendronach to the same consortium led by Billy Walker that recently revitalized Benriach. Under that ownership group, the 15 Year Old Revival, 46% abv, was launched to mark the distillery’s repositioning under new ownership.
Color: Dark Copper
Nose: Earthy, fruity with deep rich sherry tones
Taste: Dusty red grape skin, dark chocolate, the earthiness of nose is more coffee grind on the tongue than anything else (and I mean this in a good way). This is full of sherry goodness and is more than its reputation as a sherry bomb. There is salt and even hints of smoke in this release. The mouthfeel is round, full, and slightly dry from having spent a full 15 yrs in a Spanish Oloroso Sherry Cask. Water takes out some of the sweetness, brings on the dryness of the sherry quicker, and makes the hints of smoke a bit more prominent.
Finish: It quickly goes from an earthy, nutty yet silky chocolate mouthful to a long, moderately dry peppery spiciness.
More experienced friends of mine claim that GlenDronach releases are what old versions of Macallan used to taste like. I can’t speak to that but I will say this is a great dram to have on your shelf. As I say above, it’s more than just a “sherry bomb”. It is complex, meaty and alternates between smoky, spicy and fruity.
This single malt runs between $75 and $99 in the U.S. In Britain, expect to pay £45.