Google Glendronach retro-vertically

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

January 5, 2016


Glendronach retro-vertically

Glendronach’s one of the names that gained much respect and love from most whisky enthusiasts in recent years, thanks to some sherry treatments that have been done with much care and maestria. But how was Glendronach in the first place? How was it a long time ago? Let’s try to answer that question today. Indeed, instead of going back into time, we’ll do that the other way ‘round, starting with some older bottlings. Some much older bottlings…

Glendronach (75° proof, OB, bottled 1930s-1940s)

Glendronach (75° proof, OB, bottled 1930s-1940s) Four stars A very rare and very famous bottling that I’ve always wanted to try, especially because of this funny statement on the label: ‘Most suitable for medicinal purposes’. Also because it’s called ‘a perfect self whisky’, which simply used to mean that it was a single malt. And third, because while some brands have been claiming that they pioneered the single malt category around the early 1960s, this is a fine example of an official single malt that used to be sold even before WWII, rather widely, like Laphroaig used to be as well, and several others. But let’s taste this medicinal malt whisky, I feel fever coming ;-). Oh and please note that this version at 75° proof is even rarer than the one at 70° proof. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not uncommon to find plenty of vegetables in very old bottlings, and that’s really the case here. Cooked turnips, for example, or cress soup, steamed asparagus… After a few minutes, this is almost becoming a blend of beef stock and chicken bouillon! Perhaps also a little soy sauce, bone marrow, grilled duck… A few nuts as well, but that would rather be roasted chestnuts. In the background, some coal smoke, a little tar, and a few ashes. Mouth: amazing, while I had feared this would be plain and pure meat soup, it’s actually much more citrusy and peaty, and salty as well. Salted liquorice, sooty/tarry stuff, oils, earth… But there remains a little dry/vegetal feeling as well. Fried beans? The body remained firm after more than 70 years in glass. Finish: medium, and really very salty. This bouillon again, with a few Chinese mushrooms (the large black ones). Comments: echoes of yesteryear, as a progressive folk-rock band from the early 1970s would have said. Always very moving, but perhaps not 100% tuned to today’s tastes. SGP:273 - 86 points.

Glendronach 8 yo (80° proof, OB, UK, 26 2/3 fl ozs., +/-1970)

Glendronach 8 yo (80° proof, OB, UK, 26 2/3 fl ozs., +/-1970) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: ah, fruits! Its got that impressive fruitiness that could be found in early ‘naked’ Glendronachs, between pink grapefruits and kiwis, while the background remains sooty, oily and ashy, around an old garage or things like that. It’s really interesting to see how those two main aromas blend and collaborate, but that’s something that could also be seen in old Laphroaig. Gracious nose, just a bit shy. Mouth: most older malt enthusiasts already know how good these bottlings could be, and this is just another example. Should anyone try to smoke grapefruits one day, this is probably what you would get. Touches of passion fruits as well, and yet again, quite a pinch of salt. The spirit itself is relatively fat, but the grapefruits lift it. Finish: long, wonderfully citrusy, with hints of coffee, perhaps from the wood. The aftertaste is tarrier. Comments: makes you think of a greasy Springbank. This is potent malt whisky. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Glendronach 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 1980s) Five stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: this one was sherried, and probably one of the bottlings that started to build Glendronach’s reputation as a sherry-monster-producing distillery. It does have similar aromas to those of the old NAS, but it’s less on vegetables, and more on dried fruits and rich tobacco, plus mint, parsley, and camphor. This combo works extremely well, and makes this baby both rich and light. Touches of lovage, tiger balm, mandarin liqueur, earthy tea… It’s well a whole, and yet it’s superbly complex. Mouth: not even the lower strength is a problem. Stunning arrival on quince jelly and tarragon – not as unlikely as it sounds – and long development on some earthy black tea, chocolate, dates, black olives (just bits) and, again and again, roasted chestnuts. There’s a smokiness as well, and indeed a salty touch, just like in the others. Finish: perhaps a tad short – that’s the strength – but fat, smokier, with some bitter chocolate, dried figs, black pepper, and always a touch of salt. Comments: exceptional whisky. With this, at 50% vol., you die. SGP:562 - 91 points.

I’ve got an idea…

Glendronach 12 yo ‘Original’ (43%, OB, +/-2015)

Glendronach 12 yo ‘Original’ (43%, OB, +/-2015) Three starsLong time not tasted some modern 12. Last time that was in 2009. Colour: dark gold. Nose: strictly nothing to do with the old 12. It’s not often that that happens. This one’s much more on raw malt and Williams pears, with a moderate sherry influence, but then some whiffs of Vicks (camphor, eucalyptus, mint) that are much to my liking do come out. Feels younger and simpler than the old 12, though. Greengages, gravel. Mouth: starts with some lactones and stuff (coconut, vanilla), as if some newish oak’s been in use, which even gives it a bourbony side. Goes on on pears and nuts (pistachios, macadamia) plus Weetabix. Muesli. Tends to become a little dry. Finish: pretty long, malty and green. A few raisins. Comments: it’s got a rawness that I enjoy. Another one that would be good for your hipflask. SGP:451 - 81 points.

Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.3%, OB, batch 5, 2015)

Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (55.3%, OB, batch 5, 2015) Four stars Glendronach’s newish antifreeze ;-). Loved batch 4 (WF 90), it was a true bang-for-your-buck bottling. Now at more than 80€ a skittle, that may change… It’s seen some PX and oloroso sherry casks. Colour: gold. Nose: so far from being the 12 at a higher strength! Granted, it is a little rough, and green, and spirity, but there are also rather lovely herbs and dried fruits. Sultanas, cinnamon cake, figs… With water: nice chocolate, Mars bar, cornflakes, dates. Mouth (neat): rich, sweet, punchy, malty, citrusy. I did not care too much for the nose (a little simple, perhaps), but I have to say this arrival is great. Hot chocolate, malt bars, Guinness, dried figs, raisins, and perhaps the tiniest ‘pinhead’ of Marmite. This is a product from the UK, isn’t it? With water: swims very well. Touch of oak, chocolate, marmalade, ginger, all-spice… Finish: long, relatively dry, gingery, peppery. Comments: it’s a bit like at Laphroaig, with the rather huge gap between the 10 and the 10 CS. The oak feels a bit, perhaps (ginger/nutmeg). Love the maltiness. Still excellent. SGP:451 - 86 points.

We’ve also got plenty of single casks to taste, but that will rather happen in the near future. (Thanks again Angus)

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






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