Taste Test: Glendronach’s New Single Malt Is One of the Best Whiskies We’ve Tried This Year

Macallan fans, you are seen. We know you can’t get enough of that sweet sherry cask-matured single malt scotch whisky, so have no fear because there’s more than enough of it to go around. But there’s another distillery specializing in sherry cask whisky that you might not be as familiar with, The GlenDronach, and it’s about time for you to get to know it better.

The Macallan is famous for releasing bottles approaching a century in age that shatter records at auctions around the world. The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 11 is pricy as well, but with an SRP of $800 it’s far more affordable than the younger Macallan 25. Batch 11 is a 28-year-old single malt that was aged for nearly three decades in Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. It’s another admirable achievement from master blender Rachel Barrie, who is very particular about the barrels she selects for this range (there are only 3,181 bottles of this new release). “The GlenDronach Grandeur is an unparalleled range of the finest aromas and character from masterful Spanish oak sherry cask maturation,” she said in a statement. “A single malt of elegant finesse, this expression offers a symphony of sherry aromatics interwoven with dark manuka honey, roasted almond and walnut. It is intense and full-bodied, as is the signature of The GlenDronach, with a crescendo of black cherry and espresso adorning each mouthful.”

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So how does the whisky stand up to Barrie’s tasting notes? I detect just a hint of smoke on the palate—not from peat, mind you, but just the result of many years aging in oak picking up that sherry spice. There’s also some charred pineapple, stewed rum raisin, white pepper and vanilla custard on the palate. This is an intense whisky, bottled at 48.9 percent ABV with natural color, and while it veers towards the prominent tropical fruit notes that many whiskies this old start to develop, that wonderful sherry cask maturation tempers it at the last moment.

I am a big fan of The GlenDronach, and this whisky certainly does not disappoint. Other fans of the distillery were disappointed to hear that it started chill filtering its whisky a few years ago, a step according to GlenDronach reps that would “provide flexibility in their whisky-making processes” and so on and so forth. Okay, this is not a production step that seems at all necessary, but it also kind of doesn’t really matter as far as the quality of the whisky is concerned. Thankfully, the whisky is still natural color (again, not really something you can taste). But technical info aside, The GlenDronach is decidedly one of the very best sherry cask-focused scotch whiskies you can find. So Macallan fans, come join the ranks of us GlenDro heads, because we’re always looking for new members.

Score: 97

What Our Score Means

  • 100: Worth trading your first born for

  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet

  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram

  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market

  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable

  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.

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