Glendronach 19, 1993, Cask 490 (for K&L)

GlendronachThese days it’s hard to throw a stone in the whisky world without hitting a single cask release from Glendronach (though it would probably be a good idea to not throw stones in the whisky world, were one to actually exist). It feels like there’s one every other month. We don’t really get any of these in the US usually, and so it’s nice to see this release from K&L of an official oloroso sherry cask from 1993. I have already reviewed another 1993 oloroso sherry cask release from Glendronach (also 19 years old) and you can read my take on that one here.

K&L seems to have had some trouble selling this one out. That’s a shame because this is really quite good. The problem is probably that the whisky market in the US is not quite as mature as in the EU when it comes to single malts and the Glendronach name doesn’t carry quite much cachet here yet as it does in the UK and Europe where a much larger set of casks are released every year and most sell out. As a result, $140 for a 19yo probably seems like too much of a barrier. I think it would probably help if the excellent Glendronach 15 “Revival” were a little cheaper and could function as a gateway for the brand (the more affordable 12 yo “Original” is fine but nothing very distinctive); but, in general, I think it is hard in the US to sell the general malt market on relatively expensive teenaged whiskies from the second and third-tier names (even if the whiskies themselves are very good).

Glendronach 19, 1993 (54.7%; oloroso sherry cask 490 for K&L; from a sample from a fellow whisky geek)

Nose: Cola concentrate, very reduced beef stock, light soy sauce. An inkiness too and a lick of wood (tannins). Raisiny sweetness emerges after a bit but it’s not very overbearing. With time it gets drier and saltier and just a little bit nutty. With even more time the raisiny sweetness intensifies. With a few drops of water there’s some caramel and toffee too. There’s a little more fruit too, with just a hint of orange peel and dried apricots.

Palate: The sweetness leads on the palate: raisins, yes but also something brighter/redder, which is a little unexpected for an oloroso cask. Starts getting drier before I swallow though and then there’s the wood again–not overbearing, providing a little spicy and bitter bite. With time this bite is more leathery than woody, actually, and the raisin note gets richer with some added caramel. Water reins in the tannic bite, and gives the raisins room to play: play, raisins, play! the world is yours! (“that’s enough of that”, ed.)

Finish: Long and mostly features the wood from late in the palate, getting saltier as it goes. With water the wood takes a back seat at first but there it is eventually.

Comments: Very drinkable at full strength, but I think the development with few drops of water is quite nice. I’d say, start out neat and add some water as you go. On the whole, I thought this was very good: far, far better than most of the young NAS sherry bombs out there (more expensive too, of course; twice the price of the A’bunadh in my neck of the woods). That said, while it is clearly a sibling of the 19 yo oloroso cask from 1993 I reviewed previously, I didn’t like this quite as much. Your preference may be different; especially if the drier, more tannic aspect of oloroso cask aging is what does it for you; me, I would have a liked a little more fruit.

Thanks to bpbleus for the sample!

Rating: 87 points.

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