This might be the last single cask Glendronach I buy for a while. This is partly because prices have all but risen out of my comfort zone—there was a time when these single casks represented excellent value but that time is gone; and partly it’s because the more I’ve thought about it the less comfortable I’ve become with Glendronach’s lack of transparency around the labeling of these whiskies as “single casks” (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about). This particular cask, selected by and bottled for the lads at Whiskybase, is said to be a single oloroso butt and I think (though I’m not sure; parenting two small children is a hell of a thing on the brain) it may have been released to commemorate an anniversary of their store or maybe a milestone on the site. As I trust Menno and CJ’s palates I was confident that this would be a good one, distillery shenanigans and all, and indeed that proved to be the case. I opened it for my local group’s tasting in January (where it was a hit) and have been tasting it regularly since. Here, before I sharply accelerate the bottle’s demise, are my formal notes.
Glendronach 21, 1993 (52.1%; oloroso butt #23; from my own bottle)
Nose: Raisins, plum jam, apricot and some orange liqueur along with some pencil lead/graphite. After a minute or two it gets quite savoury, with reduced beef stock and something mushroomy as well. With more time it gets spicier (clove, nutmeg) and also more fruitcakey; a bit of pipe tobacco too now and some old leather. Some cola concentrate as well. With water the plum and apricot get more assertive
Palate: Starts out spicier on the palate and then the fruit come in (the same fruit as on the nose). The graphite note is here too, verging on slightly gamy (iron, I guess). The citrus begins to emerge quicker with each sip but there’s also a bitterness now (think sauteed bitter greens, like arugula). On the whole, though, there’s not as much fruit as promised by the nose. Not too much change with water—maybe a little ginger now with the spicy notes.
Finish: Long. The fruit and the bitter note slowly wash out—the bitterness turns from vegetal to zesty—and it gets more peppery and then salty as it goes. More bitter and less fruity with water.
Comments: Very good stuff. I really enjoy this more austere version of oloroso matured whisky (though, of course, there’s no way of being sure that this was indeed a single oloroso cask the whole way through) with the minerally, almost gamy quality. Still, it would have needed a little more fruit on the palate and a more interesting finish to make it into the 90s for me.
Rating: 88 points.