Glendronach 18, 1991

In my “Coming Soon” posts for the last couple of months I’ve promised a Glendronach 17 yo from 1995 bottled for the Whisky Exchange. But I’ll be damned if I know where that sample is. As I’m unlikely to have pulled something so specific out of thin air, there are two possibilities: the sample is lost somewhere on my shelves; or I drank it at some point without taking notes or clearing it from my samples database. It’s so wonderful getting old! Anyway, I have for you instead a Glendronach 18, 1991. This was released in 2010 and was from only the third batch of Glendronach’s releases. In those days the mania for this series had not yet set in and it was not difficult to acquire bottles; nor were the prices so high. It was also well before suspicions began to be expressed about the nature of these releases. You may have already seen my post about the question of whether these were/are indeed single casks in the way that most consumers understand the term—if not, you can read it here. Well, as it happens this putative single oloroso cask also yielded an unlikely number of bottles: 760 to be exact; suggesting that this too was a product of a cask or two being re-racked into an oloroso butt for the final phase of the maturation. Has this resulted in flabby whisky? Let’s see. 

Glendronach 18, 1991 (51.9%; cask 2512; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: Leads with dry oak; right behind it is dried tangerine peel, leather and salt. The dried citrus note expands with time and after a couple of minutes of airing it gets quite rich (fig reduction). Brighter and stickier (hard orange candy) at first with a couple of drops of water and then meatier (beef drippings and soy sauce).

Palate: The richer sherry notes pop out on the palate: apricot joins the dried tangerine and there’s some caramel. Nice texture at full strength. On the second sip there’s a touch of cinnamon and some savoury gunpowder (the good kind). Sweeter as it goes. Let’s see what water does. It pulls out more of the oak but it works well with the sweeter notes; the texture does thin out though.

Finish: Long. The rich sherry expands here: the fruit yields to dark chocolate and sweet pipe tobacco. As on the palate with water.

Comments: The nose had me a little worried that this was going to be tannic on the palate but instead it’s a wonderfully balanced sherried malt. A little more interesting development on the palate and it would be in the next tier. I liked what water did for the nose but preferred the palate and finish neat. However this was put together, the end product was good. But ends rarely justify means.

Rating: 89 points.

Thanks to Florin for the sample!

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