Glendronach 18, Allardice

Glendronach 18
Over on Diving for Pearls Michael Kravitz is in the middle of a week of reviews of unsherried Glendronach (you should go check it out). Me, I’m much more conventional: I have a review of the standard issue 18 yo, the Allardice. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while but the price, north of $100 pretty much ever since it showed up, kept me from buying a bottle. I should also say that when I got a taste of it some years ago I thought the 15 yo was better anyway. However, thanks to the fact that in the EU this costs less than the Glendronach 15 “Revival” does in the US, I finally plumped for a bottle. And (spoiler alert) I’m quite glad I did. I’m not sure, by the way, what the mathematics on this one’s age may reveal. I know that the early editions of the 15 yo had to be quite a bit older than 15 (based on when the distillery was on hiatus) but I’m not sure if that’s true of this as well. Doubtless someone will be along soon to clarify.

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Glendronach 17, 1996, Cask 1491

Glendronach 17, 1996
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)

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Glendronach 20, 1993, Cask 33 (for Abbey Whisky)

Glendronach 20, 1993
Of my two previous Glendronach reviews one was of a 21 yo,1993 from an oloroso cask that was quite good and the other was of a 23 yo, 1990 from a PX cask that was mediocre. This one is also from an oloroso cask and also from 1993; and like the other 1993 was also bottled for a store, in this case for Abbey Whisky in the UK. And where that was cask 23, this is cask 33—and since these were both distillery releases the proximity of the number suggests a strong likelihood that they were from the same distillation run and perhaps even the same parcel of quality sherry casks. So all the signs seem to point to a good outcome. Then again not every cask can be a winner. And it’s also the case that given the lack of clarity of what “single cask” means at Glendronach this may not all have started out in oloroso casks, and may have been re-racked into a cask 33 in a completely different year (if you read my piece on Glendronach’s “single cask” shenanigans you might remember that I was told that the cask numbers are often recycled every year). Continue reading

Glendronach 21, 1993 (for Whiskybase)

Glendronach 21, 1993
This might be the last single cask Glendronach I buy for a while. This is partly because prices have all but risen out of my comfort zone—there was a time when these single casks represented excellent value but that time is gone; and partly it’s because the more I’ve thought about it the less comfortable I’ve become with Glendronach’s lack of transparency around the labeling of these whiskies as “single casks” (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about). This particular cask, selected by and bottled for the lads at Whiskybase, is said to be a single oloroso butt and I think (though I’m not sure; parenting two small children is a hell of a thing on the brain) it may have been released to commemorate an anniversary of their store or maybe a milestone on the site. As I trust Menno and CJ’s palates I was confident that this would be a good one, distillery shenanigans and all, and indeed that proved to be the case. I opened it for my local group’s tasting in January (where it was a hit) and have been tasting it regularly since. Here, before I sharply accelerate the bottle’s demise, are my formal notes. Continue reading

Glendronach 23, 1990, Cask 1240

Glendronach 23, 1990
A little over a year ago I published what has probably become the most read of all my whisky posts: my report on Glendronach’s somewhat freewheeling use of the term “single cask”. This post has been in the top 10 most read pages on the blog every month since, and it seems like it gets linked to on some whisky forum somewhere in the world for the first time every week.

While whisky geeks seem to find the question interesting they also seem to have largely shrugged at the practice. There hasn’t been any sort of sustained outrage, and nor have there been calls for Glendronach to clarify their practices or use less misleading language on their labels—I haven’t myself purchased any of the single cask releases since then and so can’t confirm if there has in fact been any change on that front.

Well, we get the transparency that we ask for, and the industry is probably all too pleased that we don’t really ask for very much. Continue reading