Single malt whisky - tasting notes

09 Jun 2010

GlenDronach wood finishes

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in GlenDronach

GlenDronach wood finish This August, four new GlenDronach releases will see the light of day. They’ve all received an additional finish in different types of casks, similar to what has been done at BenRiach over the last six years. The focus of GlenDronach will always be on sherry maturation though.

James CowanThese are the wood finishes:

  • GlenDronach 14 years Sauternes
  • GlenDronach 14 years Virgin Oak
  • GlenDronach 15 years Moscatel
  • GlenDronach 20 years Tawny Port

The Tawny Port and Moscatel versions were matured in European oak sherry casks before their 18 month finish, the other two were bourbon matured (American oak).

Although they were available at the Wild West Whisky Fest, I waited until their charming sales rep James Cowan presented them in a tasting at TastToe.




Please note that we’ve tasted samples at cask strength.
I’ve manually tried to dilute them to bottling strength (46%).


GlenDronach Sauternes 14yo GlenDronach 14 yo Sauternes (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: typical Sauternes influence: figs and melon with a buttery touch. Also a distinct hint of noble rot (botrytis) and flour. Apples with cinnamon. Honeysuckle. Mouth: sweet and honeyed with lots of barley sugar. Hints of vanilla and white chocolate. Finish: sweet, creamy and spicy.

This shares a lot of qualities with BenRiach 16yo Sauternes and should be a interesting alternative for Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or. Around € 50.

Score: 83/100


GlenDronach Virgin oak 14yo GlenDronach 14 yo Virgin Oak (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: this has striking hints of freshly sawn plywood. You know, the edge of the wood that is slightly burnt by the saw blade. It’s toasted, quite dry, with lots of vanilla and faint hints of glue. Nougat. Green banana. Actually quite pleasant. Mouth: spicy with hints of vanilla biscuits. Roasted peanuts. Nutmeg. Freshly sawn wood again. Finish: medium length and dry.

A peculiar profile with obvious woody notes. Not as good as the BenRiach Virgin Oak releases, but a nice introduction to the style. Around € 50.

Score: 81/100


GlenDronach Moscatel 15yoGlenDronach 15 yo Moscatel (46%, OB 2010)

This sample was remarkably hazy. Nose: rather citric. Fruity but in a vibrant, slightly sourish way. Think of rhubarb. Stewed fruits. Apple compote. Yellow raisins. Apple crumble with whipped cream. Old roses. Mouth: more or less the same combo of garden fruits and brown sugar. Cinnamon. Marmalade. Some tangerine and lots of toffee. Finish: grows more woody, malty and spicy. Nice evolution.

Well made, sweet, fruity and very zippy. Around € 55.

Score: 85/100


GlenDraonch Tawny Port 20yo GlenDronach 20 yo Tawny Port (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: much closer to the original GlenDronach style. Slightly vegetal sherry with mixed spices. Some honey. Blackcurrants. A light hint of smoke? Mouth: rich, with darker port notes but a nice acidity of sour cherries as well. Sultanas. Chocolate. Toffee. Slightly herbal towards the end. Finish: long, herbal and spicy.

This wood finish is a little closer to the common sherry releases with the port adding a deep fruitiness. Around € 80.

Score: 83/100


As a general remark, all of the wood finishes were pretty well made. None of them were too winey or cloying (none of them were exceptional either). GlenDronach has a kick start for these finishes thanks to the BenRiach experience.


Also in the line-up yesterday were the regular GlenDronach 15yo and 18yo, and the recent GlenDronach Grandeur which replaces the old 33 years old.

It’s interesting to note that the 15yo ‘Revival’ was a new batch which seemed less sulphury and less dirty than how I remember the first batch, with a bit more fresh fruits. I think they’ve done some nice tweaking.

On the other hand I’ve always preferred the 18yo ‘Allardice’ and this is still the case. It’s fresher, polished and more fragrant, with lovely raspberry and hints of tobacco. I need to review this in depth one day.

GlenDronach Grandeur was the winner of the evening according to the tasting public. I agree. For me, the 18yo came in second and the Moscatel was my favourite of the finishes. Most people preferred the Port finish though.

GlenDronach wood finishes 3 Ruben Luyten 2010-06-09
  • Gal

    Nice lineup Ruben.
    Enjoy your trip. scotland? 😉

  • Ruben

    More rain? No, Italy…

  • Michael

    When I see distilleries do these (weird) finishes, it makes me think that they are trying to cover up a bad cask. Maybe Billy Walker has been forced to clean out the old stock of bad casks…

  • Gal

    either this, or they are looking for new business selling us all sort of silly finishes.

    i suggest Coca-cola finish to add extra creaminess and molasses 😉

  • Ruben

    They just want a wider market, in the same way that car producers are now presenting a zillion different variations of the same car platform.
    It’s also a house style issue: they want to focus on sherry maturation, but they have a lot of bourbon casks lying around. I don’t think it’s a bad choice to finish them instead of releasing bourbon casks that don’t fit the style you want to present.

  • Charlie

    Batch 2 and 3 single cask series to be released in the same year? I wonder how many good sherry casks they still have in the warehouse.

  • Marc Michels

    As far as I understand Alistair Walker understood,
    Glendronach owns still a lot of casks of lower quality from the days before Glendronach was closed. Like the new 12y who comes from some re-refills cask and got a finish in Olorosos and PX casks, those new finishings seams to be treated in additional casks for the same reason: improvement for some lower quality casks.

  • Ruben

    @Charlie: There should be new 1971 / 1972 casks in this year’s single casks, so I guess that’s good news. The oldest cask in their warehouses dates from 1968 by the way.

  • Charlie

    Thank you Marc Michels and Ruben for the info!

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  • gal

    there is a new addition of a 15 yo port… just out. tried it?

  • Ruben

    No, not yet.

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November 2015
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Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1931 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.