I really liked the last Whiskybase exclusive Glendronach—this 21 yo oloroso cask from 1993—and am hoping this 19 yo from a PX cask will have more in common with it than with the controversial PX cask 23 yo that led to all the fuss about Glendronach’s use of the term “single cask”. Of course, what that controversy tells us is that using the terms “oloroso cask” or “PX cask” may be meaningless. As the cask information on the label only refers to the last cask in which more than one cask may have been re-racked, this so-called PX cask may in fact have whisky in it that spent far more of its life in oloroso casks, and the so-called oloroso casks that so many prefer may have whisky in them that spent a goodly portion of their lives in bourbon casks (and may even have been re-racked alongside PX casks). Yes, what finally matters is what a particular whisky tastes like, but if that’s the case, why bother putting cask details on the labels at all? Anyway, I shouldn’t get on a high horse about this as I’m obviously still buying Glendronach’s “single cask” releases.
Glendronach 19, 1995 (54.2%; PX cask 3804 for Whiskybase; from my own bottle)
Nose: Leather and plum sauce to start and then a fair bit of beef stock along with some pencil lead and some dried, woody tangerine peel. Very nice. Gets a little more cough syrupy as it sits but the citrus gets brighter as well; some apricot now too. Some leafy, mossy notes too—more “organic” on the whole than you might expect from a PX cask; not much sticky sweetness to speak of. With more time the fruit, the apricot particularly, is more pronounced and shaded nicely by the pencil lead/graphite. Water gets rid of the organic notes and emphasizes the fruit more still.
Palate: Bright citrus hits first (orange) along with some wood and then the graphite. Not sticky sweet here either but it is sweeter and a little flabbier. On the second sip there’s more tannic oak and it reins in what seemed at first might be an expanding syrupiness. Gets a little sharper as it goes (a touch of savoury sulphur but it adds good balance here). Stickier with time but the graphite expands alongside and keeps the sweetness from getting overbearing. Less flabby and not as sharp with water but somehow less interesting.
Finish: Medium. No real development here and just the slightest bit of separation of sherry at the end. Water lengthens the finish but the sharper notes emerge later now and talk a bit more loudly.
Comments: I really liked the nose; on the palate there’s less complexity but it’s a very pleasurable, heavily sherried whisky. A good everyday drinker (if not exactly priced that way). I enjoyed it more without water.
Rating: 87 points.
I have been hesitating on the glendronach releases recently – combination of the single cask issue (see the 1972 PX cask just released whereas every other 1972 cask has been oloroso), increased prices (quite marked this time round) and less effusive reviews. Perhaps also slightly influenced by having a stack of the earlier releases (esp 1993s) that needs addressing….
Having said that, I did try a 1995 UK exclusive oloroso “single cask” release at The Whisky Show that was pretty good.
Yeah, I no longer buy any unless there’s some corroboration. In the case of Whiskybase, I trust their picks.
“Yes, what finally matters is what a particular whisky tastes like, but if that’s the case, why bother putting cask details on the labels at all?” – What? Some product information is valuable, not because of what it “guarantees” about whisky character, but simply because it reflects factors that have a bearing on whisky character in context? Incredible!Now, if only people would make the same arguments in terms of age, refuting the utter NAS nonsense that somehow age relevance is label dependent – or that it even CAN be – we might actually be able to leave the current era of generally bullshit whisky commentary.
Either you’ve misunderstood my comment or I’m missing the tone of yours. But for the sake of clarity, this is what I meant to say: if you (a whisky company) are going to fall back on the marketing chestnut that rather than worry about every detail of how a whisky is made we should only focus on whether we like it, then why on earth do you put other (obfuscating) information on the label? Even if I like a whisky I would like to be able to trust the information on the label.
The tone of mine applies to both cask and age information – the reason that it’s on the label is that, yes, the character of the whisky inside is partly a result of the processes that the information reflects. That the information itself should be accurate goes without saying, but the important point is that the relevance of the information, if is relevant at all, CANNOT depend upon whether anyone wants to talk about it for marketing purposes or not. Whiskies are what they are because of how they are casked and they are what they are because of how they are aged – which is why NAS (age matters here, but not there) is patent bullshit, a fact that many commentators should be addressing.
Well, I do agree (and which is why I rarely review NAS whiskies, except occasionally in the hope of puncturing marketing bubbles).
Drank this again tonight: picked up a fair bit of pipe tobacco on the palate and less citrus; also the beef stock and other umami notes from the nose are now more apparent on the palate as well.