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....working through a bunch of samples and minis I have sitting around...
GlenDronach, along with Ardmore, has traditionally been a component of Teacher's blended scotch. Teacher's finally bought the distillery in 1960 - but was then mothballed in 1996 about 5 years after being bought by Allied Distillers. It re-opened in 2002 and has been extremely successful at bouncing back, with a highly regarded core range, accentuated with batch releases of single cask vintages, of which this is one.
This spirit came off the still on February 26 1993 and matured in an oloroso sherry butt (cask #536) for 19 years. It was part of GlenDronach's sixth batch of single cask releases, bottled in June 2012. The spirit is non-coloured and non-chill-filtered.
The colour is very dark - flat Cherry Coke. On the nose, it actually has an element of Cherry Coke; it reminds me a bit of the Kavalan Solist with those huge sherry notes (or an SMWS 40 year old Glenfarclas I had on my last trip to Scotland!) Extremely fruity, with grapes, strawberry jam and some Weetabix cereal in the background. Tons of dried fruit and brandy, but the malt still comes through and balances the oloroso. A few drops of water soften the cask nicely.
On the palate, mouth-drying (then mouth-watering), with dates and brandy-soaked raisins, Christmas pudding, creme brulee, Turkish coffee, cloves and nutmeg. Absolutely wonderful, as good a purely sherried whisky as you could hope for. Almost a rum. Water tames the alcohol, which enhances the flavours.
The finish, unsurprisingly, is deep, rich and full of cloves, shiitake mushrooms (!) and full-on sherry. This is a rich, enveloping dram, though certainly cask-dominant. The kind of sherried malt that is far too absent today. Jim Murray scores this a massive 95 and it's easy to see why, though I could have used just slightly less cask influence. But that's just nitpicking. I hope to try more GlenDronach single cask releases in the future!