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I earlier reviewed GlenDronach's Octarine, 12yo, and 15yo; I tasted this 18yo especially against the 15yo and 21yo Parliament. This 18yo stands out as the spiciest (which might be why I rate it lower than the 15&21).
First Vapor: Molasses.
Nose: Dates and tingling clove enveloped in leather.
Palate: Wonderful entrance of raisin and dry spicy molasses, with tannins of walnut/cocoa. These tannins quickly build to spices of clove and ginger, hot (if without water) but not overly. Some raisin rounds out rest of mouth.
Finish: Ginger and clove again prickle the tongue; walnut breathes out the throat; and the sides feel slightly dried but rescued by some raisiny sensation, stirred up by the tongue.
This is about confluence of light raisin sensation against the more tannic spices. It works, and I suspect it would be better enjoyed by you spice-lovers out there. After some oxidation, the heat of the ginger spice picks up too much for me though. I find that a bit of water is necessary to round it out in any case; otherwise it scores 3 points lower.
Compared to GlenDronach’s 15yo, this 18yo is spicier (clove) and more molasses; less sweetly-chewy melted chocolate; so, more refined and less sweet. (It's certainly more robust and fuller than the 12yo, and quite different in character from the Octarine-- so I will not compare with these.) It is much closer to the 21yo Parliament; the main differences are that the Parliament is not quite as spicy or leathery, and rather introduces some intriguing fruitier tones. For these reasons, I just can't appreciate the 18yo to the same degree as the 15/21, even though I enjoyed it.
Within other distilleries, I think Glengoyne 21 is the most obvious comparison, but this ‘Dronach is sweeter (more raisiny) and less woody. (I do need to re-evaluate ‘Goyne though, as it has been a couple of years since I last tasted it.) The leather and date tones also reminded me of an unpeated version of the more recent (ca. 2013, not the earlier versions) Bowmore Laimrig.