Whisky Review: The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Brown Forman. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

The storied GlenDronach distillery had some big shoes to fill with the supply-depleted departure of its 15 year old, sherried expression from the market in 2015. Locals and critics alike bemoaned the fate of that bottling, with secondary market prices quickly tripling. It appears their voices were heard, and with great trumpetting from the whisky community around the world.  

With The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival, the cult favorite, sherry-happy distillery has reintroduced its decade and a half old, single malt expression that’s been aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucía, Spain, to the market to much acclaim.  The winner of a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco Spirits Awards in 2018, it seems that the guidance of master blender Rachel Barrie and new ownership blood has paid off.  

The GlenDronach is one of the more beloved, though still relatively unfamiliar, names in Scotch whisky. Nearing its 200th anniversary, the distillery has suffered some of the more common indignities in recent whisky history.  Mothballed in 1996, it was renovated and resumed a full production schedule in 2002. In the last 20 years the property has changed hands multiple times, most recently falling under the ownership of the American bourbon titan Brown-Forman and its first foray into the realm of Scotland’s whisky scene.

Brown-Forman and I are in the same boat on this count, as this will be my first taste of GlenDronach as well. As a big fan of sherried malts I’m quite excited for the return of this cult favorite.  

The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival

The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival (image via Brown-Forman)

Tasting Notes: The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival

Vital Stats: 15 years old, matured in PX and oloroso butts, 46.5% ABV, $89.99 MSRP.

Appearance: Dusty amber with minimal sheeting.

Nose: Beautifully bright cassis, pomander, dark woods and palm sugar.  Light ethanol heat.

Palate:  Rich and deep, with surprisingly bright and welcome fruit notes.  Persimmon gingerbread, raisins, brown butter, roasted stone fruit, marzipan and clove accentuated by high notes of honeydew, lime zest, cedar bough and mint stem, held together with a toasted coconut oil viscosity.  A beautifully Christmas appropriate profile.

With a bit of water added it thinned out and turned, not unpleasantly, slightly prickly and towards an herbaceous melon Hi-Chu candy. It finishes with lingering Zante currants, light menthol notes and the pleasant bitterness of burnt sugar.    

The Takeaway

Summary

This is a delightful whisky. Those hoping for an exact reproduction of the discontinued iteration may be disappointed, as it is not that. Nevertheless, it is a delicious return to tradition, particularly those who enjoy a thoroughly sherried dram.

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