Distilled 2002, 10 years old, Cask No. 2022, 53.4% ABV, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, Highlands, Scotland
If you read this blog for any length of time, it’s going to become quite apparent that I’m a fairly big Glendronach fan.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had the kind of moment where one particular bottle cements your love of a distillery, but I’ve had such a moment and it came for me after a few tastings of this particular Glendronach.
This isn’t any ordinary Glendronach though. It’s a single cask expression bottled exclusively for the Netherlands after spending 10 years in Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon number 2022. Not sure why the tube says ‘distillery exclusive’ on it though!
The distillation date in July 2002 is a rather curious thing as well, as up until 14 May 2002 Glendronach had been closed for a good six years. That would make this one of their earlier distillates after re-opening in 2002.
That six years of being mothballed resulted in a few changes at Glendronach though and upon re-opening they began buying in their malt in (where they previously floor-malted their own barley).
A few years later they also switched to indirect steam-heated stills, but the distillate in this particular bottling would have still been produced using the direct coal-fired stills they were running at the time.
The presentation is similar to the official Glendronach single cask releases that are put out twice per year. The main difference though, is that the country exclusive bottles are presented in card tubes, instead of the rather more glamorous faux suede-lined cases. I say glamorous, but I’ve also had friends call them coffin boxes, so perhaps the card tube ‘aint so bad after all!
Did you know…
Apart from bottling special releases for specific markets, Glendronach also bottle single cask releases for specific stores, such as Royal Mile Whiskies in the UK, La Maison du Whisky in France and K&L Wines in California.
Glendronach’s biggest market though? According to their Regional Sales Manager, Douglas Cook, it’s actually Taiwan!
Some esthery polish notes when first poured and not immediately sweet. This did open up considerably with some time in the glass, offering hints of bitter, high-cacao dark chocolate, dried tart raisins and some sweetness I’d liken to damp brown sugar. Mid-way through the dram and it became much more lively with a hint of ripe banana, orange and chewy caramel.
Quite a closed and not overly involving nose on this, but much more mature and rounded than I would have expected from a 10 year old whisky.
Immediately oily and viscous – it coats your tongue and offers nothing for a brief second then literally bursts with big sweet juicy raisin and plum flavours. Super jammy, thick and rich with candied orange rind and a syrupy bitter caramel sweetness. Very lively and bright on the palate.
Finishes long and warming and remains sweet for an awfully long time with some triple sec (orange liqueur) notes toward the end. I also caught the slightest appearance of oak on the back of the palate as well.
Some final thoughts
A few drops of water opened up the nose slightly quicker, but killed off that explosive edge I found on the palate. For me, the palate is where I found the real character of this dram, so I decided to keep the water well away from this one.
Despite my overt fondness of this particular Glendronach, it’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s been hugely – and consistently – enjoyable, from the moment I opened it, to the very last dram. As much as I love some of their older bottlings, these young post 2002 bottles have so much to offer and can easily be added to that growing list of great young whiskies.
If Glendronach continue to release young bottlings, we’ll eventually see a 2005 bottle which will be the real test for me as it’ll use commercial malt and will have been produced using steam-heated stills. Will it hold up to the rich oily character of these earlier bottles? I guess time will tell.