Let’s do another Glendronach. Unlike yesterday’s 20 yo this one is from a PX cask and was a US exclusive, I believe. I’m not sure if the distillery is still putting out “single casks” in general release in the US or if they’re only doing store exclusives now. While the last PX cask Glendronach I had was no great shakes, I’m hoping this one will be as good as the excellent UK exclusive PX cask 4681, a 15 yo from 1995 which was my first ever “single cask” Glendronach (I still have a large reference sample saved; I should review it sometime).
Anyway, let’s get right to it.
Glendronach 17, 1996 (53.2%; PX cask 1491; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Raisins, caramel, dried orange peel; a little dusty wood and spice right behind that first wave. Something organic below it all (leaf mulch?). With more time it’s mostly about the fruit. A couple of drops of water wakes the wood back up a little but the fruit expands too and it’s quite nicely balanced.
Palate: Sweeter entry than suggested by the nose but it’s not sweet per se: plum and orange peel and then a lot of caramel and spicy wood (cinnnamon and clove mixed in with the oak); just a bit of gunpowder too. Gets sweeter as it goes: brown sugar, maple syrup. The fruit and the wood both expand with time, with the wood just a tad too tannic. With more time still the fruit gets the edge on the wood. As on the nose, water balances it very nicely: the tannic wood recedes and it’s not as sweet.
Finish: Long. Nothing new shows up but the fruit outlasts the wood. After some time, the sherry starts to separate at the end (the taste of iron/blood in the mouth). Water’s good for the finish too, tying everything back together and keeping the citrus and plum going a really long time with the wood coming back at the end.
Comments: Started out well but the palate wasn’t quite up to the nose—not neat anyway; water did it a lot of good. Okay, I really do need to get into that reference sample of cask 1461 and see what I make of it now.
Rating: 86 points.