Whisky Advocate

Review: Four new GlenDronach single malts

March 3rd, 2010

Here are the four relatively new GlenDronach whiskies. The 15 year old is the one to get, followed by the single cask 19 year old (U.S. only). If you like sherried whiskies, then you will want to check these out.



GlenDronach, 1989 vintage, 19 year old, 58.7%, $135
The first single cask release of GlenDronach for the U.S. by the new owners, and a nice one at that. Silky in texture, polished, and clean on the palate, with light toffee, treacle, cherry bonbon, orange-soaked date nut cake, and chocolate-covered raisin. Never cloying, like some heavily sherried whiskies can be. Silky, soothing finish. Surprisingly soft and youthful for its age.  (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88






GlenDronach, 12 year old, 46%, $59
Nicely sherried. Rich, with maple syrup, honey drenched citrus, sultana, and a good dried oak spice finish for balance. Well done for a 12 year old, and definite competition for Macallan of the same age.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86








GlenDronach, 15 year old, 46%, $95
Deeper, richer, more viscous, and more intriguing than 12 year old (and not as sappy as the 18 year old). Complex and intriguing, with raisin, orange marmalade, grape skin, sugar plum, cinnamon bun, raspberry preserve, mixed nuts, and coal ash.  Nice tannic grip on finish. The best of the bunch, and very impressive!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 93








GlenDronach, 18 year old, 46%, $136
There’s plenty going on here, but it’s not as vibrant as the other GlenDronachs. Lots of sherry influence, viscous, and a bit sappy, with Curacao liqueur, honey drenched fruit, raspberry tart, black cherry, and ripe malt, leading to a grape stem finish. An enjoyable whisky, but my least favorite of the bunch.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 84

30 Responses to “Review: Four new GlenDronach single malts”

  1. Red_Arremer says:

    I’ve got my eye on that 19 year old. It’s really a stand out price for a distillery bottled, cask strength, single cask, 19 year old, especially one which is well reviewed.

    As far as the Mac 12 comparisons for sherry freaks go– is this the kind of competitor that Dalmore or Glenfarclas 12 are or is it more heavily sherried than those and closer to Macallan in style?

  2. Gal says:

    Thanks john for the review.
    i have a sample of the 15 Revival, and glad to hear you liked it so much. i had one sampling of it, and indeed it’s a very rich and impressive malt.

    Going to re-taste so i can write me own review later.


  3. H.Diaz says:

    Still hanging on to 1 of 2, 15 y/o GlenDronach’s from 5 or 6 years back. They were half the price of this new model. With a 93 rating from Malt Advocate and despite its $100 price tag, eventually, I will break like a twig and give this newbie a whirl. 15 to18 year olds have always been my sweet spot. The 18 y/o, with its price tag, will have to wait at the back of the line.

  4. Seth Nadel says:

    In NJ, GlenDronach had dropped off the fact of the earth. I’m glad to see it back. I always liked the 1968.

  5. Texas says:

    I see we have the 12 and 15 here in Houston. I will be trying the 12 for sure this year. The 15 is over priced for my budget, although I am sure it is good.

  6. two-bit cowboy says:

    John, I see you haven’t done a formal review of the Macallan 12. Can you give us a rough, relative placement: GlenDronach 12 vs Macallan 12? Thanks.

  7. Sean says:

    Thanks for the review. I really like the 15, nice juicy chocolate covered orange IMO. Between the 12’s I prefer the Mac 12 over the Glendronach 12 (especially as the Mac 12 is $35 out here in AZ).

  8. Mark Davis says:

    please forgive and cure my ignorance but…
    “Surprisingly soft and youthful for its age. ”

    I thought with age spirits become softer. Why did this come as a surprise? Am I just confused on nomenclature? I can count the whiskies I’ve had in the teens on one hand so my experience is admittedly limited.

    • John Hansell says:

      Some (many?) can become dry and/or aggressively woody if kept in the barrel too long.

      • Mark Davis says:

        Thanks Red and John. I know most of this stuff. here is the part that confuses me. to my understanding when I hear “smoothness” I think of lack of “spirity” taste. So a scotch this mature one would expect to smooth as I understand it. so if it’s a surprise how smooth it is I feel like I don’t actually understand what “smooth” means.

        red thanks for the lagavulin 12 suggestion. Lagavulin 16 is probably my favorite scotch if I ahd tho pick. also as a side note has anyone else noticed that there is a bottle of lagavulin 16 in jack’s dry bar in 30 rock? I have fond I actually prefer Talisker 10 to 18. It seems to lose it’s fight with age like a career criminal.

        I have a bottle of finlaggan which is rumored to be a younger lagavulin. has anyone compared lagavulin 16, 12, and finlaggan? I would be really curious to see their tasting notes.

        • Red_Arremer says:

          That’s what I was trying to say, Mark. Since Glendro’s big boast is that it’s heavily sherried, the Glendronach 15 was probably batched mostly from first fill sherry. There’s still plenty of raw oak influence left in first fill barrels so there is a danger that it could have gotten too woody in 15 years. Also, European oak can have a more drying and intense effect than American oak. First fill European oak barrels have a lot of potential harshness to give to a whisky if things work out poorly.

          This isn’t the case with for instance the bottles of G&M Rosebank 16 yo I picked up a couple of weeks ago. They just say “aged in oak” on the side. You never know what exactly that means, but one thing it tells is that a whisky probably will not be too oaky because the barrel has been used so many times that it ahs stopped being a sherry butt or a bourbon cask– now it’s just oak.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      It’s spirity flavors that diminish with age, Mark, but also as John says, wood influence increases with age. The influence from new oak barrels and first fill barrels (barrels that have held one other drink, usually bourbon or sherry, once before the whisky) can get really massive. People talk about the grip of oak tannins, but in some cases oak grip and spice can amount to their own form of “bite.” Check out the recently released Lagavulin 12 to get an example of this. It’s not spirity, but it does have a slight oak sting even when you water it down to a reasonable strength (it’s bottled at 57.9 I think)

      Those really old scotches you hear about, the deep mellow ones are most likely matured in largely in second fill barrels (barrels which have already spent time holding the initial non scotch drink and have held scotch for a while as well). Some third fill barrels might even go into those really old scotches.

      This was probably aged mostly in first fill sherry so there is a danger that it could get too harsh and woody in 15 to twenty years so it’s worth mentioning that it hasn’t.

  9. […] John Hansell reviews four releases from GlenDronach. […]

  10. That 19 YO sounds fantastic. I’ve tried the 12 and 15 (both of which are great), but have yet to see the 19.

  11. Chris says:

    The 15 year Revival is great stuff. At $55 in the UK it’s a bang for your buck sherried whiskey. Seems like good stores in the US have it priced around $75, which is still a decent deal.

  12. Mark Davis says:

    ah thank you!

  13. Texas says:

    John, at some point I would like to see you do an updated review for a lot of the standards: i.e. Laph 10, Glenlivet 12 , Talisker 10, HP 12..etc. For example Serge found out something I had noticed since 2007..Talisker 10 has gotten much better (it was good anyway in 2007, but much beter now).

  14. Patrrick says:

    Only released now in the US? I think that Jon should travel more often to Europe 😉
    I should taste again the 18 YO, since it was the best of the 3 when I tasted them 10 months ago.

    • John Hansell says:

      Yes, with all the red tape here in the U.S., it takes a while for Scotch whiskies to get here. Sad, but true. But bourbon is a completely different story. We got you beat there.

  15. Alex says:

    I had the 12, 15 & 18 at a tasting in February and the 15 was the standout, much nicer than the old 15yo expression (the single cask offering was not in attendance). I guess my concerns are how these bottlings will hold up as the stocks produced when the stils were direct fired diminish and you always have to worry about cherry picked casks when product lines relaunch…but, still a great whisky and revival here. Hope they can keep it up and looking forward to future releases

  16. MARS says:

    I made also a face to face last year and my preference go for the 18 years old. I find the 15 too agressive(I tried it again yesterday to be sure and if I improve my notation on the 15 I still prefer the 18 who is less agressive).

    May I ask what is the lot number of the 18 years old?
    (and the number of bottle if it is more than lot 3 as I have already lot 1,2 and 3)


    PS : It’s sad I can’t get a bottle of the single cask for my collection. One more I am going to miss!

  17. I tasted the new Glendronachs (12, 15, 18) with friends the other night. We were blown away by the 15 – wow! I wonder what the old Glendronach 15 would have been like at 46%, or cask strength!

  18. Chris Riesbeck says:

    GlenDronach will be back and available in the state of CT sometime early in the summer! The 12, 15 and 18 will be available and there is no word yet on whether or not single cask offerings will be made to larger retailers with a desire to purchase full barrels. That said I might need to catch a train to NY and grab a bottle of that 19YO. Sounds delicious, thanks for the info John!

  19. […] a bottle of this nectar? (Score : 93/100 at WDJK , $95 value!) […]

  20. […] Hansell from WDJK liked this one more than the 12, 18 […]

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