As I said on Monday, the last week of this month is sherry cask month. The week got off to a high abv start with a Glenrothes 12 bottled by the SMWS from a first-fill oloroso sherry cask. Today I have an official Glendronach 18, a PX puncheon bottled for the UK. On release this cost me $103 at the then much higher $/£ exchange rate. These days I’m sure it would cost a far prettier penny on the secondary market.
I have to say I am a little nervous going into this. On the one hand, some of my favourite Glendronachs have involved PX (including this one, also bottled for the UK market). However, my experience also suggests that these PX releases are also the most likely to involve shenanigans from Glendronach’s so-called “single cask” regimen and unsuccessful ones at that. Certainly some of the flabbiest of these alleged “single casks” I’ve had from the distillery have seemed to involve re-racking in PX casks to rescue spirit that had probably gotten over-oaked or just gone flat in terms of flavour. Such, for example, was this one, also a PX puncheon. Let’s hope this is closer to the 1993 than the 1990.
Glendronach 18, 1994 (55.1%; PX Puncheon 3547 for the UK; from my own bottle)
Nose: Jammy fruit (ripe plum, figs, raisins) along with some dark soy sauce, some dried orange peel and polished oak. Gets more leathery as it sits and then a bit sour. Water makes the fruit jammier still and pushes back the oak and the sour note, or more accurately, integrates them into the fruit.
Palate: Comes in with the oak in the lead but everything else close behind. Very nice texture and quite approachable at full strength. Slight sherry separation as I swallow. On the second sip it’s a little more earthy and there’s some pencil lead mixed in with the oak. The fruit is not as pronounced here as on the nose but it does come on with time. Okay, let’s add some water. Brighter with water with more of the orange peel coming through.
Finish: Long. The sherry recombines, thankfully, and then it’s mostly about the oak. A little bit of sulphur emerges at the end (probably the source of the sour notes on the nose as well). As on the nose and palate with water.
Comments: This was presumably re-racked as well—as I don’t think much, if any, full-term PX maturation happens anywhere—but in this case it seems to have taken well. There’s not much complexity here but it’s a very pleasant, heavily sherried malt. I wouldn’t pay what the likely auction price for this would be now but I’m glad I got the bottle when I did and still have plenty to drink down. I can confirm that it goes even better with some 80% dark chocolate.
Rating: 87 points. (I would probably have given it 88 points a week ago; I’ll be interested to see how it develops in the second half of the bottle.)