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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 19, 2013


Tasting new single casks
by Glendronach and an aperitif

I think most newish Glendronach single casks have been embarrassingly good, provided you’re sometimes not against a little gunpowder in your sherry monsters. I’ve got plenty yet to taste but we’ll focus on the new ‘batch 8’ today. Well, not quite, let’s not make their lives too easy and rather start with a nice little ‘challenging’ aperitif as we like to do at WF Towers…

Glendronach 12 yo (70° proof, OB, 26 2/3 Fl. ozs, +/-1975)

Glendronach 12 yo (70° proof, OB, 26 2/3 Fl. ozs, +/-1975) Five stars This one is different from the versions for Italy that used to be bottled at 43% vol. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’ll say it again, you never quite know what comes from bottle ageing or what was in the whisky in the first place, but this is beautifully sappy, resinous, waxy and almondy, although it’s no big spirit. There’s also a little fruity olive oil, touches of newspaper (ink) and then more fruits, rather around pink grapefruits. A wee mustiness too but that’s OBE for sure. Old wine cellar. After fifteen minutes, a lot of apple peelings, which is great. Mouth: perfect! Clean and zesty but also thick and oily, unexpectedly phenolic and waxy, very ‘old Highlands’ in a way. There’s even some salt and a few clams and whelks (any shellfish, really), which gives this old young Glendronach a funny coastal side. Finish: sure it’s not the longest but now we find fresh mint and other herbs. The aftertaste is even saltier. Comments: fab young old-skool Glendronach with very little sherry inside, if any. Some great smoke in the aftertaste. This starts very well. New ones, over to you! SGP:353 - 91 points.

Glendronach 10 yo 2002/2013 (55.6%, OB, batch 8, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1988, 664 bottles)

Glendronach 10 yo 2002/2013 (55.6%, OB, batch 8, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1988, 664 bottles) Five stars Colour: full amber. Nose: plenty of chocolate (both milk and dark) and then coffee and more coffee. It’s absolutely not sweet or fruity, this is very dry. Very little gunpowder this time, not one single used match and rather gravel and sand, soot, leather and then a growing humus and smoke. Charcoal. So yes, I think it’s very dry for a ‘PX’. With water: no it’s not. Water makes it sweeter, smoother and rounder. Big time! Stunning leather/tobacco, like nosing an old Habanero from a good house. Woo-hoo! (excuse me). And there’s even smoke. Mouth (neat): instantly reminds me of the current ‘Cask Strength’ – unless my memory doesn’t serve me well. There’s a faint note of kirsch, then ‘ideas’ of slivovitz or even date arrak, then more triple-sec, raisins, figs and other dried fruits. There’s also more gunpowder this time, which translates into a slightly chalky/mineral side. I think this is still a little rough, but it’s a very fine one for sure. Also cloves and cumin, more and more of that. With water: I was wrong, it’s not rough, it just needed water. Old sweet wine that got dry. Rivesaltes, Maury or, maybe, PX indeed. Finish: long, smoother, raisiny, easy. Smoky aftertaste. Comments: I just had an idea, I’ll do a big bold session with only sherried Glendronachs and Karuizawas. Why am I telling you this now? SGP:462 - 90 points.

Glendronach 17 yo 1996/2013 (53.1%, OB, batch 8, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1490, 709 bottles???)

Glendronach 17 yo 1996/2013 (53.1%, OB, batch 8, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1490, 709 bottles) Five stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: ha! This one comes from the same kind of cask as the 2002 but it’s completely different. Not that it’s much sweeter or fruitier when neat, but this time we find distinct gunpowder, bags of soot and ashes, some soy sauce, amontillado sherry, a lot of bacon and then a great sourness. Chocolate sauce, leather, tar and straight beef meat. Oh, and a lot of mustard coming through after a while – which goes well with beef, haha. I love these dry gamy noses. With water: a perfect example of how ‘gunpowder’ can be an asset. We’re exactly between a gun that just shot and dried porcinis. Yes that’s a new – albeit expensive - way of harvesting mushrooms ;-). Mouth (neat): yes, THIS is sweeter. An extremely rich palate, very tertiary, leathery, with cakes and cakes of old pu-erh and many raisins. Also Christmas cake ‘of course’, cloves, chewing tobacco, mint sauce, millionaire shortbread and, alas, also a growing green grapiness that’s a little less stunning. White Armagnac (blanche). With water: crikey, water put that straight. Amazing. Green tobacco, gingerbread and myrtle. Finish: very long, more leathery. Caraway and cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: same overall quality as the 2002, same score. Good sherry makes wonders. Sure the distillate is hard to find (not much of what was in the old 12yo is to be found in these sherry monsters) but is that important when the sherry’s great? SGP:561 - 90 points.

Glendronach 19 yo 1994/2013 (58.4%, OB, batch 8, oloroso sherry butt, cask #101, 628 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1994/2013 (58.4%, OB, batch 8, oloroso sherry butt, cask #101, 628 bottles) Five stars Colour: very dark amber. Nose: why this oloroso is sweeter than the PX on the nose, I don’t know. This is much more on classic prunes and raisins and Seville oranges and dark rum and… burnt matches. Not many, but quite a few. Some ham too, tobacco, then more old wine, barrels, saltpetre, chocolate… Tends to converge with the PXs I have to say. With water: chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. So it became narrower but if you like chocolate, this is for you. Mouth: very rich but crisper than the others. Blood oranges? Sure it’s a heavy baby but it’s sippable even at almost 60% vol. Maybe it’s just a little too prickly and gritty. Read ‘green and grassy’, as some sherry monsters can be. Water should help. With water: you bet it does! This time it’s cinchona, tonic water, pepper and ginger that play first fiddles but I love that. Indeed, I’m a Campari kind of guy. Finish: long, peppery, greatly bitter. The aftertaste is a little dusty but that actually works in this context. Comments: another 90. They’re all different but it’s just impossible to claim that one is ‘better’ than the others. Or even ‘more to my liking’, apologies Mom. SGP:461 - 90 points.

Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52.9%, OB, batch 8, oloroso sherry butt, cask #3, 633 bottles)

Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52.9%, OB, batch 8, oloroso sherry butt, cask #3, 633 bottles) Five stars Colour: full amber. Nose: very different again, this is shier but also seemingly more complex, maybe more elegant… So less ‘wham-bam’, with more flowers (orange blossom, lime tree), then rocks, earth, this feeling of old wine cellar again, a few walnuts, touches of balsamico, fresh almond and… gewürztraminer. I mean roses and litchis, but only wee touches. So heavy sherry can remain complex and elegant! A little bacon too (that’s less elegant, I agree). With water: an old cabinet of Partagas Lusitania. I smoke very rarely these days but these stunning aromas remain very vivid in my mind. Mouth (neat): it’s desert! Many honeys and many liqueurs, with a perfect combination of oranges, caraway, orange blossom honey, Virginia tobacco, candied ginger and a fistful of juicy sultanas to round this off. With water: absolute perfection. Love the dryness. Finish: very long, it’s like a grande finale. Love the bitterness, no aftertaste should be sweet in my opinion. Comments: I almost went for 93 points. This one might well be the best recent 20 years old I could taste. Very, very impressive. So, old Lusitanias, I remember very well when we first… But you don’t care, do you? SGP:462 - 92 points.

Sweet Vishnu, not one single middle-aged Glendronach below 90 points! Believe me, I tried very hard to find flaws or whatever, I just couldn’t. And I even started the session with a very skilled and fast pacemaker! The new ones simply got me, fair and square. Congrats.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glendronach I've tasted so far


Pete and Jack in St. Tropez







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