GlenDronach (21 year) Parliament

I have been saving this tiny little sample bottle. What better time than the week before Christmas – before everything gets crazy? GlenDronach is among my favorite distilleries, and may make my favorite sherried malt (for the price). The 18 was a mixed bag for me, but it is not every day that I get to taste a malt with over 20 years of maturation, let alone an official bottling.

GlenDronach’s 21 year-old bottling from the official distillery lineup is aged in a combination of PX (Pedro Ximenez) and oloroso sherry casks. (Note that is “aged” not “finished” – this whisky sat for a full 21 years in barrels previously containing sherry.) Hilariously enough in the current political climate, this whisky is not in fact named after the British Parliament, but rather for the “parliament” of rooks that nest in the trees overlooking the distillery. It is bottled at 48% ABV and without chill filtration or added coloring.

Normally I do not review whiskies over $150… in fact, I have actually turned away offers of samples for whiskies over that range because I don’t feel right recommending expensive whisky. Like… of course it’s good, but I can’t ever say in good conscience that anything that expensive is worth the outrageous sums asked.

This, though. This isn’t for you, dear reader. This is for me.

Nose: Chocolate-covered cherries melting over double fudge chocolate cake. Decadent. Dense. Port wine reduction drizzled over ripe strawberries nestled into butterscotch pudding. This smells like I imagined the Everlasting Gobstobber tasted when I was a kid. I could smell this forever.

Palate: Full, syrupy body. Restrained tongue burn considering its ABV. Rivers of molten dark chocolate greet the tongue, studded with plump figs and dried apricots. Oaky in a controlled, precise way, perfectly supporting the layers of fruit and sweet. In a word, perfect.

Finish: Medium-long. How did they cram all of this dark chocolate flavor in here? It continues through the finish, now with bursting pomegranate arils, liquid caramel, and fudge. Begins to fade with mint chocolate chips and fresh whole cloves.

With Water: I almost couldn’t bring myself to do it, but after adding 6 drops of water to the (probably) 10ml left in my glass, I can smell elevated levels of tart cherry without a lessening of the other notes. The palate might be a little silkier in texture, but strangely less coherent. The finish picks up a note of tobacco and fresh undyed leather. This really doesn’t need the intervention of water, but you can play with some if you feel the desire.

Overall: If you couldn’t tell from the over-the-top language in the above notes, this is an incredible whisky. One of the best, literally, that I have ever had. It strikes all of the bells for me: Sweet and fruity sherry without being overly resinous or sulfurous. Decadently full flavor without excessive alcohol burn. Mountains of chocolate, to degrees I’ve never experienced in a whisky. It starts confidently, strides across the palate without faltering and finishes with elegance, retaining its integrity. A whole, full, round, complete whisky.

Before anyone asks, yes, this is much better than Macallan 18.

I’m going to put a tongue-in-cheek “Must Have” mark on this, because honestly if someone said to me “I can afford it. Will I like it?” The answer is a resounding, unmitigated YES. How can I mark that any lower? However, I cannot honestly say that it’s worth $200 if you don’t have $200 to blow on good whisky. Buy a GlenDronach 12 instead and imagine the chocolate, and you’ll be just fine.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Founded byJames Allardes 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 (21 year) Parliament
48% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $200 - $230
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle purchased at Master of Malt)

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  • Thanks for the review. This one sells for $280 in Ontario, therefore I can not purchase it AND remain married. I will have to live vicariously through your experience and a bottle of Glendronach 12 that is always a staple of my cabinet. I’m not that big on sherried whiskies, but Glendronach just does it perfectly.

  • I have just had the opportunity to purchase not one but three bottles of Glendornach 21 and I jump at the chance and purchase all three bottles. I can’t wait to try it at Christmas.

  • Coincidentally, I had the opportunity to enjoy a glass of this whisky for the very first time while swinging through Zürich two weeks ago. Like SN, I found it absolutely spectacular and felt that it drank even older than the posted 21 years. I very much enjoy the GD 12. I found the 15 revival to be somewhat overrated relative to its reputation. However the 21 Parliament is in an entirely different league. The last stop of my jaunt through Europe was Paris. I swung by the legendary La Maison Du Whisky and had to make a very difficult decision with only room for 2 bottles in my bag. After much deliberation I selected independent bottles of Glenlivet and Glenburgie hand picked by the LMDW staff, while GD 21 parliament stared at me from the shelf at €185. I question my decision to this day.

  • Ha, that was fun to read. Echoing Jamie’s comment, I’m now hungry too … I really wonder what kind of Christmases you had growing up!

  • This really is one of the best scotches around. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now. I bought a case of it last week for $183/ bottle.

  • The Glendronach 21 is spectacular. The smell alone is transcendent and intoxicating.
    a bit more complex than the Dalmores and better value than the Macallen, it is the best example of it’s breed.

  • I think this would be easy enough to justify it’s price; just tally up all the less than spectacular food or useless junk you would have spent the same money on. The either starve temporarily, or live off of ramen for a little while, and there you go – whisky bliss!

    Now I wish I’d bought this instead of Highland Park 18 (no slouch itself) if only the HP18 wasn’t on for such a good price when I got it – sometime around a year ago it dipped under $180 here in Alberta if I recall correctly. Still there’s always a time for mind blowing and wallet punishing scotch at some point. We have but one whisky drinking life to live!