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Glendronach 15 Year Old Revival Sherry Cask

Magic numbers

0 1894

@tjbReview by @tjb

19th Jan 2015

0

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    24
  • Finish
    23
  • Balance
    23
  • Overall
    94

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

OK, so here's the thing. This is a bottle I've had my eye on for a while. It is from GlenDronach who are owned by BenRiach. The distillery was mothballed from 1996 - 2001. My bottle is dated 2014/12/01. Legally the Whisky has to be at least 15 years old to be labelled 15 yrs. So, by my reckoning my bottle is older than 15 years. In fact, it has to be 18 yrs but labelled as 15. Is this correct? I assume so which then begs the question as to why it wasn't bottled as an 18.

Bottled exclusively in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks the colour is dark amber. Good legs.

The nose is thick, sweet, sherry, creamy, oak, demerara, dark chocolate, plums, figs. Wow, it's a nose to breathe in.

The palate offers sherry, leather, oak, chocolate oranges, coffee notes linger. Bursting with dark fruits, figs, plums, dates.

The finish is warm, spicy, sherried fruits that go one and on

There are so many whisky awards that it dilutes the value but this was TWE of the year 2015. I agree, it is a cracker. Buy a bottle right now!

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18 comments

asmazda commented

Could it be they blended some younger whisky from another Billy Walker distillery?

I love this as well but it tastes a little hot for an 18+ yo malt.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@asmazda, If it was from another distillery it would not be a single malt. The designation is by distillery, not company, otherwise JW Red could be called a "single grain".

5 years ago 0

asmazda commented

@Nozinan, Good point. I don't know why but I just feel it doesn't taste like an 18+ yo whisky. Do you feel the same?

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I've only had a limited taste of it, but given they have an 18 year expression, I suspect most of what is in there would be in the 15-16 year range

5 years ago 0

asmazda commented

How can it be 15-16 years range if the distillery didn't resume distillation until 5/14/2002 and it was bottled 12/1/2014?

5 years ago 0

@Jules
Jules commented

Have also had this and it's still one of my favorites, got to get me another bottle sometime soon. I'd agree it does taste like there is plenty of more aged Scotch in there - but perhaps that's just because it's an 'old style' sherried dram, less sweet and more complex than most of it's current generation.

Anyhow, it's a must for anyone who generally doesn't like the sherried-style, because you WILL like this :-)

5 years ago 0

maltmate302 commented

The malt maniacs said to look out for these bottlings due to the fact that there must be some older stuff in there due to the mothballing as stated in the above post.This is what you call a BFYB!

5 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

This is a lovely bottle and I am sorely tempted to buy another even though I still have half left. I think it is nice to see a distillery doing the right thing. After all of the cynicism and people feeling that the industry is too money grabbing and trying to rip people of with too many NAS it's refreshing to see this. A truly lovely 18, bottled as a 15 and priced at £40 which is simply a bargain. That being said, don't tell anyone as I don't want them to run out too soon!

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

If it were all 18, why would they not sell it as an 18? They have an inferior 18 YO already. What's in that...21 YO?

5 years ago 0

@CognacFan
CognacFan commented

Maybe it's sold as a 15 yo because the style / type of cask is different then the 18 yo. Like the Old Pulteney 17 yo does not have the same style as the Old Pulteney 21 yo.

5 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

@Nozinan I think it is a distillery offering good service. They have a loyal following and if they pulled the 15 and tried to bump everyone up to the more expensive 18 it would annoy consumers and possibly lose them customers. It hasn't cost them any more so they are selling a superior product, winning awards and that will do them a lot of good in the long run. They could have gone NAS and mixed in younger spirit but I appreciate the integrity.

5 years ago 0

maltmate302 commented

Ardbeg,amongst others, used to put older stuff in their 10 and 17 year expressions 15 or 20 years back which resulted in a lot of goodwill which lasts to the present day.I feel that Glendronach,as tjb states,are continuing on a similar theme.

5 years ago 0

@cherylnifer
cherylnifer commented

I cannot help but wonder if, while Glendronach was "closed" from 1996-2001, that perhaps some distilling and bonding still occurred, using just afew key employees. Just limited distilling and delivery to the bondsman warehouse. No wholesale, retail, swapping, blending, or bottling activities. More like "nearly closed". My attempt at a conspiracy theory.

5 years ago 0

@cherylnifer
cherylnifer commented

After all, it would not require much 15yo stock, blended with older stocks, to meet the age statement labeling requirements of SWA. Just a little "bootleg" spirits from between 1996-2001 would do the trick.

5 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

An interesting theory but I think it was closed and not "nearly closed".

5 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

@tjb First, thanks for the lovely review. Do you get any notes of peat or coal anywhere? Supposedly they were drying their malted barley with peat and coal (the barley was peated to around 14ppm) and using direct coal firing when this liquid was distilled. I haven’t tried a bottle of the 15yo in five years . . . very curious . . .

The issue with “why the 15yo label when all the liquid is older” has been touched on by several people already . GlenDronach is not the first (or last) to do this. The gold standard that all single malts are striving for is consistency in an age statement from batch to batch. Old Pulteney (as @CognacFan correctly pointed out) does this with their 12, 17, and 21 year old expressions. They are trying to keep the “expressions” consistent. The master blender can tell that this cask at 10 years old should be kept for the 21yo and not used for the 12 or 17 because of its profile. They are actually going for certain characteristics in each expression. I believe that GlenDronach is doing something similar with their 12, 15, and 18 year old expressions.

Ardbeg is a classic example of this. They were closed from 1981 until 1989. They opened with a large production in 1990, but then had extremely limited production (2 month out of the year) between 1991 and 1996. They closed in 1996 and didn’t start production back until the end of 1997.

SO the standard TEN which came out in 2000 must have contained liquid distilled prior to 1990 (a big year of production). By the time you got to early 2007 every drop of liquid in the TEN was older then 10 years - most of it being 12, 13, 17 and some even older! This is why bottles with a code L7 and L6 are desirable because it really is a much older expression of Ardbeg TEN then the label would suggest (or is being bottled today).

Take the Ardbeg 17yo which was produced from 1997 until 2004. In 1997 all of the liquid was 17 years old and older. HOWEVER for five years from 1999 until 2004 all of the liquid was far older then 17 years. In the last release of the 17yo in 2004 the youngest liquid could only have come from 1981 . . . which means it was really 23yo and older liquid in the bottle. Why keep the name the same? Consistency. The Glenmorangie TLC (the owner) was trying to produce a consistent product that they hoped would be a standard expression moving forward. A portion of the unpeated Ardbeg made in 1980 and 1981 was a large component of the 17yo. This gave it a less smoky and less peaty characteristic than typical Arbeg.

Back to GlenDronach (closed 1996-2001): I believe that we can safely assume that they are going to continue this process of releasing the 15yo Revival with much older stock in it. I don’t know if they had any product being produced 2 months out of the year (like Ardbeg) to simply keep it open. I am actually inclined to think this didn’t happen. Being “mothballed” usually doesn’t mean this. When the BenRiach Dist. Co. bought GlenDronach in 2008 I am certain that they took a look at the stock, what had been produced from 2002 until 2008, and tried to figure out what their “core” range would be moving forward. My belief is that the liquid in the 15yo Revival will not change to the “new distillate” made in 2002 until after May 14 2017 (production began again on May 14, 2002). That will be a big time to look for a change in quality.

Until then, continue to quaff the GlenDronach 15yo Revival in full assurance that all the liquid in the bottle is going be older than 19 years, and in 2016 older than 20 years.

As to why it might not “taste” older? That is all about the quality of the casks. Many distilleries will re-rack casks into less active barrels to maintain the characteristics they want. You really see this with older age expressions where the distiller doesn’t want the liquid to get too much oak, but where the liquid still needs several more years in casks to be usable in the 25 or 30 year old expressions. I would bet that GlenDronach has done this in preparation for both the 15 and 18 year old expressions.

5 years ago 0

@Jules
Jules commented

It's just an all-round star dram. Possibly the best bang-for-buck sherry style money can buy.

5 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

Agreed, class in a glass.

5 years ago 0

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