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Glendronach 15 Year Old Revival Sherry Cask

Sweet and Sour

0 1382

@dbkReview by @dbk

4th Sep 2010

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    82

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The “Revival” expression marks the renaissance—literally—of the GlenDronach distillery. A Speyside distillery, GlenDronach was “mothballed” in 2000, but resumed production in 2002. Ownership changed hands from the Chivas Brothers arm of Pernod Ricard (having acquired Allied Domecq, having acquired William Teacher and Sons, the previous “proper” buyers of GlenDronach) to BenRiach, the current owners, in 2008. Ingeniously, Master Distiller Billy Walker and his BenRiach colleagues decided to expand the GlenDronach range beyond the commonplace 12 year-old and the uncommon 33 year-old expressions with this, their first release under new ownership.

The Revival has garnered many awards and much praise from folks of no less expertise and enthusiasm for the dram than that venerable Maniac, Serge Valentin, who gave it 92 points and referred to it as an “adorable whisky”. (I absolutely love that!) Nonetheless, I’m inclined in this case to disagree somewhat with the common assessment.

The Revival has been matured for 15 years in Oloroso sherry casks, and it shows: the colour is an extraordinary shade of caramel, one stewed until it was on the verge of burning. The sherry notes on the nose and palate are equally unmissable. Less obvious, but perhaps more intriguing, are the other elements of the nose: burnt caramel (much like the colour) and cherry cough syrup co-mingle with coffee, honey, marshmallow, plums, and melon. As @galg noted in his review, there is balsamic here, too, but an aged (or heavily reduced) one. This is a sumptuous, jammy nose.

The palate is where things go awry. Again, you get strikingly sweet sherry at the fore, but as notes of dark chocolate, salt-water taffy, and orange marmalade appear, it changes utterly to a tarry, persistent sourness that carries through the finish. A healthy finish is a treat, but only so long as one enjoys the lingering flavours. With the Revival, I’m not so pleased with what’s left coating my tongue.

It’s nice that the Revival has been bottled at 46% ABV, as it’s a richer dram for it. It’s smooth, but with a touch of that lovely Speyside spiciness. And while the body doesn’t impress the eye, seeming to coat the glass only thinly, it does have a redeeming mouthfeel.

This is an interesting whisky, and one to be proud of for many things. The nose alone is wondrous. However, the predominating sourness on the palate seems to me a real blight on the Revival’s character. And so it goes...

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13 comments

@dbk
dbk commented

Thanks, @markjedi1! I've sampled the 12 and enjoyed it, but admittedly find traces of that intrusive sourness even there.

As an aside, it's peculiar that there are several different accounts of when GlenDronach was mothballed (and when production resumed). Your review of the 12 year-old dates their temporary closure to 1996 (as does the official history of the GlenDronach website), whereas several others date it as 2000; still others date it as 1995 and 1997. Very strange that there should be such inconsistency.

9 years ago 0

whiskyguzzler commented

Having read your review I was shocked to see what was written. I have drunk both the old 15yr old (pre Benriach) & the revival, lucky me, and I must agree to the slightly more bitter palette but I must admit it was far from unpleasant. This is a great addition to the range well worth a taste and priced just right.

9 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

@whiskyguzzler, your comments are completely reasonable. Obviously, if I hated the expression, I would have given it a score of less than 76-80. I think the nose is fantastic, and there are some serious merits to the palate and body as well. The sour finish, however, I found off-putting.

9 years ago 0

@galg
galg commented

lovely. i remember i loved it, besides the 'balsamic' nose it had (typical of big sherried drams). u can see my review.

9 years ago 0

@GregLogan
GregLogan commented

Thanks so much for the in-depth, careful review. The discussion on the "sour-ness" is helping me characterize both the HP18 (highly disappointing) and HP12 (in retrospect because did not specifically realize it immediately as it was the first scotch I bought - only that I did not like it). There is NO sourness in the Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Aberlour that I have tasted - BUT there is significant sourness in the HP 18 and severe sourness in the HP 12. I don't get it - I know these are highly rated whiskies. I am supposing the batch was bad?? Failed to clean the still sufficiently??? WTH??? Yeah - sourness in scotch as with beer is very off-putting and very unpleasant - I strongly dislike it. Viktor has encouraged me to wait a few mos which I will but I am very inclined to communicate with HP re: their "crappy scotch". The vendor, unsurprisingly, was no help in this instance...

Anyway, your review - including your comments re: "thin" is helpful. The HP is the thinest and it is really pathetic compared to the syrupy Ardbeg and Aberlour which I truely enjoy.

7 years ago 0

@GregLogan
GregLogan commented

Thanks so much for the in-depth, careful review. The discussion on the "sour-ness" is helping me characterize both the HP18 (highly disappointing) and HP12 (in retrospect because did not specifically realize it immediately as it was the first scotch I bought - only that I did not like it). There is NO sourness in the Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Aberlour that I have tasted - BUT there is significant sourness in the HP 18 and severe sourness in the HP 12. I don't get it - I know these are highly rated whiskies. I am supposing the batch was bad?? Failed to clean the still sufficiently??? WTH??? Yeah - sourness in scotch as with beer is very off-putting and very unpleasant - I strongly dislike it. Viktor has encouraged me to wait a few mos which I will but I am very inclined to communicate with HP re: their "crappy scotch". The vendor, unsurprisingly, was no help in this instance...

Anyway, your review - including your comments re: "thin" is helpful. The HP is the thinest and it is really pathetic compared to the syrupy Ardbeg and Aberlour which I truely enjoy.

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

@GregLogan, I'm glad you enjoyed my review. As you can see from the comments above (and other reviews of this whisky), not everyone seems to be disturbed by sourness on the palate. It bothered me quite a bit, and it did not fade with time; hence, my (relatively) low rating of this expression. However, I did not—and would not—call it a 'crap' whisky, as it (1) has many redeeming qualities and (2) my negative experience with it appears to be largely idiosyncratic.

Thus, I might suggest to you to think similarly about your experience with the Highland Park 12 and 18 year-olds. They're not everyone's favourites, to be certain, but they are nonetheless highly regarded pours. Highland Park OBs tend to be wonderfully balanced, complex, and delectable. It is indeed possible that the sourness you detected in the two expressions is due to some error in the process, but—given HP's reputation within the whisky community and that we're talking about two different expressions—it is probably more likely that you have a sensitivity to certain characteristics found in HP releases that other drinkers will not detect or, if they do, they will not find them off-putting. This does not diminish your experience with or evaluation of HP 12 and 18 one jot, but it might help put things in perspective: just because you're not a fan doesn't necessarily mean that it's 'crap' whisky. It just happens to be whisky that you, personally, don't enjoy. And that's useful information!

As an aside, I am quite the fan of (intentionally) sour beer, like Flemish reds and saisons. It's not to everyone's liking, but I can't get enough of the stuff.

7 years ago 0

@GregLogan
GregLogan commented

BTW - I don't suppose there is a way to edit our reviews once they are listed...

7 years ago 0

@GregLogan
GregLogan commented

@dbk Thanks so much for your wisdom and insight. Admittedly my Irish background sometimes is less than elegant in its descriptive monikers. I will modify my adjective to perhaps "disappointing". I was really looking forward to the HP18 and so the disappointment in receiving a nearly unpalatable scotch after so many good ones, was truly odious and perhaps push me over the edge.

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

We have all faced disappointment—but that's usually what the whisky was meant to remedy, not cause! In any case, if HP isn't for you, there will surely be plenty of whiskies that are.

As for editing your reviews, the simple answer is 'no.' However, you can alter your scores after the fact, and you can always post updates in the comments section (as I have) or re-review the whisky after some time has passed.

7 years ago 0

@GregLogan
GregLogan commented

We have all faced disappointment—but that's usually what the whisky was meant to remedy, not cause!

Well said - other than substituting scotch for whiskey I would say that is right up there with "To be or not to be...."!

7 years ago 0

@GregLogan
GregLogan commented

As an update now from one several more months into the "research" I can say that Victor led me true - the HP18 opened up beautifully after about 2 - 3 mos and I enjoyed it greatly - bought two more bottles which I note were NOT sour at the outset but great at the outside. Obviously a different batch with different results!

Now that damn HP12 after months is still sour... but I am working on it... pretty soon I will slay a lamb.

7 years ago 0

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