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Glendronach Octarine

Beautiful, complex oddball...

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

21st Apr 2014

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  • Overall
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It’s a shame I’m only now getting to know this whisky now after it’s already been pulled. Luckily there are still a few bottles here in Taipei left to be snatched up. With one open and another stored for a rainy day, I’m questioning whether that will be enough. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed an 8 yr old quite as much as I do this one. And for a similar price, I can’t think of any other single malt out there that offers up this much complexity and personality. The reviewed bottle has been open for six weeks and is ¾ full.

Nose: Very fruity and complex. Toffee, sultanas, pumpkin, chocolate, marzipan, cinnamon, glazed ham, roasted nuts, tobacco, orange rind, stewed apples, and a gentle floral note. Wow, there’s a lot going on here.

Palate: Medium bodied arrival, with a dark, roasted caramel greeting. We quickly move into rich sherried fruit. There’s some berry jam and Christmas cake flavours here as well as loads of sultanas, oranges, pumpkin, chocolate, butter, stewed fruits, and roasted nuts. Along the way some SERIOUS spices make an appearance. Huge baking/Christmas cake spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, allspice, woodspice, etc.

Finish: Those absurdly rich spices carry on. Finally we get oak, roasted nuts, apple cider, vanilla, hay, honey, toffee, butter, charcoal, glazed ham, onion powder, garlic, cinnamon, anise, almonds, chamomile, ginger, and raspberry jam.

This is something of an enigma for me. Based on the tasting notes you’d think this would be a very heavy, intense dram. Not quite. While it’s as rich and complex as the darkest, most brooding sherry monster, it’s considerably more light and casual. This is a completely different animal than the rest of the ‘dronach lineup. While I suspect there’s a good deal of whisky in here that’s older than 8 years, it’s still young, fresh, and clean. Also, the bourbon maturation hasn’t been completely eclipsed by the sherry influence, lending some lighter, brighter notes to the whisky.

The balance and complexity of this 8 yr old is really quite amazing. There’s a rich, complex sherry that is neither brooding nor imposing. There are light, bright bourbon notes that seem to pop up from time to time and lift the mood. Further lifting the mood is a youthful vibrancy and pep, with serious spices worked in that never get hot or rough. Somehow all of these things converge quite effortlessly. The result is my favorite Glendronach, as well as one of the most balanced and drinkable 8 yr olds I’ve ever had. This is definitely an oddball, but that’s what makes it great.

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8 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

Save me some for when I get to Taiwan.

5 years ago 0

@MaltActivist
MaltActivist commented

Damn! That's quite a review, buddy. Makes me want to get one for my self immediately. But like @Victor said I think might be a good idea to save us a swig when we get to T-town!

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

That and more awaits you guys if you ever find yourselves here!

5 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

Thanks for the tantalizing review. Now I suspect I was given a poor sample under poor conditions, at the tasting I attended. I will certainly try to scour for a new one, if possible.

Regarding young and inexpensive malts that manage to be complex: have you tried Glenfarclas' 10yo? And could you compare it to this?

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

I haven't had the chance to try it yet. I'm a big fan of the 12, but I haven't seen the 10 around much here in Taipei. I'll be sure to grab it if I do come across it though. Inexpensive and complex is always a good thing!

5 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

Well, I've managed to track one down! My earlier review of this malt was based on a 1-time tasting event, so it's worth seeing how the bottle will come across, now. Thanks again for the review and inspiration; I will follow up.

5 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

Great! I look forward to hearing what you think of it!

5 years ago 0

@vrudy6
vrudy6 commented

Reading your notes sounds more tantalising than the 12. I gotta get on the ball with Glendros. I still haven't tried the 15, 18 ,21. Mainly because I've never been into sherry bombs, but now I'm kinda liking them.

5 years ago 0

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