GlenDronach The Hielan’ is an 8 year-old ‘Dronach that only seems to retail in the UK. The whisky comes from a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, which makes me think it’s an attempt to compete with a number of “double cask” expressions proliferating on the market such as The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year. It seems odd to me to compete with a popular $40 whisky by releasing a $40 whisky that is 4 years younger, but nobody asked me.
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.
The GlenDronach 18-year is named after the 1826 founder of the distillery, James Allardes. It is aged for 18 years exclusively in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at 46% ABV without chill-filtration or added coloring. This has more deep, dark, concentrated dry fruit than I’ve ever experienced in a single malt. I’m not sure that’s actually a good thing. …
Like the 12 year, this is fruity and savory at the same time. However, where the 12 year has many fresh fruit flavors, in three more years the 15 has quickly become more concentrated and resinous.
This is dessert whisky, and no bones about it. While the GlenDronach house style (meaty/oily) is missing here, this is still one robust, flavor-filled escapade of a whisky. Sweet to the point of cloying, but excellently balanced by a grapey acidity and fruity complexity. Truly a pleasure, especially for a lover of dessert wines.
At $116 for 750ml, I can’t say I recommend that everyone run out and buy this. However, if you’re looking for a splurge and love complex, meaty sherried Speysiders, this one is hard to beat.
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.