[Review] GlenDronach - 12 years old 43%

Many people have got a sweet tooth, whether it be chocolate, cake, sweets or any other pastries, they know what to enjoy to satisfy their craving. But what happens when you want something sweet and the only thing you have access to is a drinks cabinet? The answer is simple, you can either go for some sickly sweet liqueur such as Baileys, or you can look for a bottle of fully ex-sherry-cask matured single malt. The most famous names are Macallan or Dalmore, but from what I understand, the new-age Macallans are not quite of the same standard as their age-statement predecessors, and Dalmore, as good as they can be, remain a bit more commercial, being coloured, chill-filtered and generally bottled at 40% ABV... So what are you left with, if you are after a quality dram which isn't too "hype" and therefore relatively affordable? Simple again, GlenDronach.
GlenDronach is not a very well known distillery from Speyside. It belonged to the BenRiach Company until this year when it was bought by the Brown-Forman Corporation alongside Glenglassaugh and BenRiach distilleries. GlenDronach specialise in ex-sherry cask maturation for their spirit and they keep their product quite traditional by bottling it unchill-filtered, at the higher than average ABV of 43% and above depending of the bottle, and natural colour. Their main range comprise of a recently launched 8 years old, a 12 years old, an 18 years old and a 21 years old. They also have special editions like most distilleries which include Sauternes finish, Virgin oak, a range of vintage single casks...
I was recommended GlenDronach by several people when I decided to expand my whisky horizon beyond Islay and peaty whisky and at the time, the 15 Revival was about to be discontinued so I bought a bottle to keep to one side. I ended up buying a second one since which I am looking forward to crack open, but in the meantime, I also got hold of a bottle of 12 years old for a reasonably low price (around £25 in France if I remember correctly) which is the focus of tonight's review. So let's review it!

As I mentioned above, GlenDronach bottle their whisky without any chill-filtration or extra colouring and the 12 in no exception. It is also 43% ABV. Looking at it, it has a very deep, rich amber look coming for the marriage of PX and Oloroso, and when rolled around the glass, the legs take time to appear. It is as if the liquid was just sticking to the glass before slowly making its way back down in thick drops.

Nose: Very rich and inviting. Sherry, rich raisins, candied peels, vanilla, some nuttiness, chocolate, hints of tropical fruit and Cognac too. Transporting me straight to Christmas!

Palate: Rich again, smooth, sherry obviously, raisins and chocolate again, vanilla, some spiciness too. The nuttiness comes through towards the end and develops further into the finish.

Finish: Long and warm. The spices and nuttiness linger for a while with some toffee notes. Perfect for after-dinner sipping.

With water: More chocolate and fresher fruit on the nose, even some hints of citrus. The palate becomes a bit lighter and fruitier too. the nuttiness is still there and so is the sherry. There is also some dark fruit in the background leading to the finish: rich, plums, raisins, nuts and hints of smoke. 

A wonderful, heavily sherried single malt, much more accessible than the likes of Aberlour A'bunadh (cask strength doesn't help of course), which would be perfect after dinner, by a roaring fire at Christmas time!


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