This week’s theme has been official distillery releases of sherry-bothered whiskies. Monday’s review (of the 2021 release of the Springbank 18) and Wednesday’s review (of the 2021 release of the Glenallachie 12) were both of whiskies that had sherry cask-matured whisky in them but were not full-on sherry maturations. They were also not single casks. The last whisky of the week is a single cask and it is single PX cask. Or so the label says. Of course, this is a Glendronach single cask from the Billy Walker era. I took a side swipe at this in the intro to the Glenallachie 12 on Wednesday, but in case you don’t know, and didn’t follow the link then, the Glendronach “single casks” of that era were neither always single casks—as most people understand the term—nor always matured only in the cask type marked on the label. As to whether that’s true of this PX puncheon that was bottled for the Whisky Exchange in 2013, I’m not sure. My early pours from the bottle didn’t blow me away but they also didn’t come across as indicating an attempt to dress up tired whisky with a PX cask finish. The bottle has now been open for a week or so. Let’s see what some air in it has done for the whisky.
Glendronach 17, 1995 (56.6%; PX puncheon 4682; from my own bottle)
Nose: Dried tangerine peel, beef stock, soy sauce. On the second sniff some sweeter notes join the savoury complex (raisins, figs poached in port); some pencil lead in there too. As it sits some cereal notes improbably emerge from below. Stickier as it goes with more of the raisins, hoisin sauce and apricot jam. With a few drops of water the oak and savoury notes recede and the fruit—especially the apricot—expands.
Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose—with the tangerine peel in the lead—with added salt and a little more oak. Quite approachable at full strength with rich texture. On the second sip, the citrus expands but so do the savoury notes. Gets more leathery as it sits. With more time still there’s even more orange peel and a bit of the apricot jam from the nose shows up as well. The salt is closer to rock salt now. Okay, let’s add water. Water pushes the leather, oak and salt back and emphasizes the fruit.
Finish: Long. The salt expands here and there’s some fig-balsamic vinegar. No sign of sherry separation Develops as on the palate with time and water (though the salt returns on the edges with time).
Comments: This has really come on nicely with a bit of air in the bottle. A good balance of rich fruit and savoury notes with just the right amount of oak in the background. Quite good neat but shows its best self with a bit of water. Who knows if it actually was a single cask as we understand the term but it did turn out well.
Rating: 88 points.