One thing which is in short supply these days is a respectably priced single malt with a teenage age statement. You can’t blame the distilleries of course because who among us would ask for less than the going the rate for their work? So when you do find something older and priced in 2 figures you have to try it out before someone in accounts finds out and fixes the anomaly. Although, to be fair this GlenDronach has been around at a good price for a long time now even after being bought over by a large american corporate entity.
The GlenDronach distillery is in the Speyside region near Huntly and was founded in 1826.
At the moment GlenDronach is in a well established period of cult status. There is many core bottles are good prices but also regularly single cask releases which are pre-sold before they touch a shelf. Some to be opened, some to hold on to and some to resell for profit. That is the shape of the whisky industry today but it wasn’t always like this for both the distillery and the industry.
The distillery was until 2008 part of larger corporations which used the large capacity site in Speyside as blend filler. Billy Walker took the solid basis and probably large decidedly average stock portfolio and set about building a brand. BenRiach and to a lesser extent Glenglassaugh were part of this independent group until 2016 when the 3 distilleries were bought by Brown-Forman and up to this point little seems to have outwardly changed at all three distilleries.
Billy Walker has moved on and bought GlenAllachie with a same management team which helped him build up the BenRiach company. In his place, Rachel Barrie has been tempted away from Beam Suntory to take up the master distiller title. It will be interesting to see what changes will happen in the next few years once the parent company have there feet firmly under the table. Will it be defining like Beam Suntory has been on Laphroaig and Bowmore or more hands off like Remy at Bruichladdich?
The GlenDronach 21 Parliament is bottled at a very healthy 48% ABV and is generally available for under £100 in the UK. The name parliament comes from collective name for rooks and apparently there is such a collective in the trees near the distillery. Marketing at its…random-est???
The whisky has been matured in a mix of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks and is a natural dark colour without any chill filtering. All those are pretty good ingredients for a quality whisky but how does it come together?
Colour – dark reddish hue of mahogany wood
Nose – Very rich and sweet dried fruit nose with more than a touch of wood spice. Some dark coffee and charring from the toasting of the cask.
Palate – The texture is thick and luxurious. More of the rich fruitcake notes from the nose are in the palate. The development adds more sweet than dark notes to it.
Finish – The finish is long and treacly. Some pepper, cinnamon and dark chocolate.
There are two important aspects to know about this whisky. The first is that it needs time to oxidise and mature in the bottle and in the glass. At first contact it is very tightly bound up and you could be left quite disappointed. The nose especially becomes much more vibrant after a few weeks.
The second thing is while water does help bring out some interesting flavours but add a few drops too many and you will have ruined it. Overall, this not just a great value whisky but a great whisky period.