GlenDronach (12 year) “Original”

GlenDronach is a classically sherried whisky. The meaty, sturdy spirit distilled near the Dronach Burn in Speyside is naturally suited to long aging in ex-sherry casks. Most of the products on the shelf are bottled from the stocks of maturing whisky distilled by the previous owners. Now that the Benriach Distilling Company owns it (since 2008), we can expect to begin seeing offerings from this distillery that both enforce the “sherry monster” reputation, as well as explorations into new avenues of expression. For example, a 20-year and soon a 15-year bottling finished in tawny port casks. Looking forward to trying those!

The 12 year-old “Original” product, re-launched in 2009, is entirely aged in ex-sherry casks, some Pedro Ximinez and some Oloroso. It is non-chill-filtered, no coloring added, and bottled at 43% ABV. The more I drink good whisky the more I appreciate seeing those declarations on labels.

Nose: Meaty, sherried nose with lots of dark red plum, chewing tobacco, and a savory quality – like glazed short ribs. Lots going on under the surface – thankfully not too sweet nor too fruity. Just right, in fact. After developing in the glass, there’s a little Maraschino cherry, and maybe some wood varnish.

Palate: Medium-bodied and mellow. Initially there is a rush of cherry and a rye-like spiciness, which subside into barbecue sauce, dried plums, coconut butter, and dark chocolate shavings.

Finish: Not long, but tasty. The lingering effect of the wood tannin dries the mouth, while a burnt sugar taste like cola persists, but isn’t bitter. After awhile the malt finally shines through, with a marshmallowy powdered-sugar-covered cereal flavor. Good stuff.

A few drops of water seem not to affect the nose, palate, or finish. Odd, that. I suggest leaving out the water, although it might sweeten things a tad, if that’s how you prefer it.

Overall: For $45 this is an exceptionally good sherried malt. Worlds better (I think) than The Macallan 12, at a similar price point. It has a continuous balanced savoriness that works perfectly with the sweet fruit elements inherent in sherry maturation – like a good spicy/sweet glaze on barbecued pork. Yum. If you have a spot in your daily dram rotation for an inexpensive sherried malt, get this one.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Founded by James Allardice in 1826, GlenDronach distillery, after trading hands several times, was sold by Pernod Ricard to the Benriach Distillery Company in 2008. At that time, they announced a new style for the distillery flagship 12-year-old bottling, which was released in 2009. We can expect to see other changes in the distillery’s lineup. Fittings include a copper mash tun, Oregon pine washbacks, four steam-heated copper spirit stills and defunct floor maltings. While it sources the same malted barley as Benriach Distillery, either the water or the workings at GlenDronach yield a bulkier, heavier spirit that takes to ex-sherry casks very well.
GlenDronach (12 year) “Original”
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $45-$50
Acquired: (Bottle) purchased from Julio's Liquors, Westborough, MA. $40

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21 thoughts on “GlenDronach (12 year) “Original”

  1. Tried this one per your recommendation and it’s every bit as amazing as your review suggests. I only wish the finish was a bit longer. Thanks!

  2. My old roommate was fortunate enough to get a bottle of the 12 from a (literal) fire sale at a local spirit store and the both of us were very pleasantly surprised at how fantastic it was. That was a few years ago and it still seems to fly under the radar here in Rochester NY with us having to special order it whenever the desire arises. Heard nothing but good things about the 15 year Oloroso and am eagerly awaiting a call from my local store when it arrives.

      1. I found it! I was at a place in Westport, CT for a bottle of Doublewood 12, and asked the owner if he had heard of it. I wasn’t expecting much, but he had, and ordered a bottle for me. $51. I can’t wait to try it.

  3. Wow. Been a scotch guy for a long time. I guess I am an oloroso fiend because I love this style–Macallan being possibly the yardstick by which these are measured. While I also really like some of the earthy stuff (Talisker), drinking this makes me feel like an aristocrat. Figs, roasted almonds vanilla and Christmas spices. Reminds me of Sicilian fig cookies with more cinnamon and maybe some pepper. Brilliant!

  4. Just got a bottle tonight via UPS (nobody local had it). I tried it and wow! It totally surpasses Macallan 12 in its depth of flavor, just wonderful.

    As a newcomer to scotch without a good local bar nearby, I have been buying different malts based on recommendations and reviews – and hadn’t considered Glendronach since Michael Jackson panned the 12 Year in the most recent edition of his Single Malt Scotch book. I so glad I took a chance based on the review and comments here. Perhaps Mr. Jackson’s review has done a valuable service, keeping Glendronach under the radar and relatively inexpensive for the rest of us.

  5. Just started drinking Scotch this week,started with Johnny walker red,witch is pure garbage.and as for my second bottle I pick speyburn. ill have to say I like it.I read about it and that’s how I got to this site.

  6. Thanks for this recommendation. I just bought a bottle of the 2013 stuff, and while I agree that it’s not at the level of the 15 year, it’s still excellent. I thought that you might be interested to know (though you may already) that the juice is quite a bit older than 12 years. I suspect the stuff in my bottle is closer to 18. Check out this link for more info, and please share your thoughts on the subject.



  7. Was heading out tonight to find a Belvanie 12 Year, they were out, but next to each other was a Glenfiddich 12, and the GlenDronach 12. I immediately called my wife and told her to hop on your blog and am very happy I did. I picked this up, brought it home, wow. I tried it first with no water- the nose was a bit sharp for me- good, but sharp (and forgive my terminology, I’m very inexperienced here), the taste was just fine- solid. A few drops and a few minutes later I was completely sold. Great review, and spot on. This is a great value, and after the water, the creaminess they advertise came through. Thanks for all these wonderful reviews.

  8. Great review. To date, this is my favorite dram. I’ve only tried 4 single malts thus far, but this is one fantastic whisky in this noobs opinion!

  9. Thanks for recommending this. Great stuff, can I get an Amen! Especially at $45. I have enjoyed all of your recommendations. You got me start on this journey with the Glenmorange original one year ago.

  10. Just got a bottle. Started off just sipping a little, wasn’t impressed. But once I got over being a tightwad (paid $64 dunno why its so high here – still a noob) allowed myself to get enough to get really cover my tongue…WOW. I must say this one I am enjoying. :) Thanks guys!

    1. You from Ontario? It’s the same price for me. I’m going to buy a bottle today, will be my first single malt. Hoping I enjoy as much as I enjoyed this review!

  11. Simply the best SM for the money I have ever tried with the exception of Auch Valinch 2011 which was only $2 more when I purchased it.


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