GlenDronach 17 Year PX Sherry Single Cask: 53.2% abv
Background: Have we been on a sherried Scotch kick, or what? Well here we are, with a single cask review of Glendronach. We are very compelled by these whiskies, because Glendronach prices their Single Cask variants more competitively than their standard offerings, and it begs some really interesting questions. For example, this 17 Year was about $130, while the 18 Year standard runs as high as $150, is 5% lower in alcohol, and is only a year older. So is it really worth the money to buy the more expensive whisky? Well, let’s take a look at this one. This is a Pedro Ximenez Sherry whisky, with all the right figures. It is as dark as whisky gets, but offers up a natural color statement to put our worries to bed. PX sherry tends to be incredibly rich and sweet, and like always, there is the concern that this whisky will be unbalanced and overtly sweet.
Nose: There is a lot of malt and molasses right off the bat, with some aromas of prominent nuttiness and vanilla bean. To go along with sweet vanilla bean is a custardy smell that is coupled with a rich, homemade caramel, brown sugar, and honey sweetness. To add to your grocery list of desserts, cut back to find some fudgy quality in the whisky. Succulent black currents, dates, raisons, and dark grape are all blended into the nose. There is some light cloves on the nose, but they aren’t terribly dominant.
Arrival: The arrival starts syrupy, with molasses, brown sugar and other rich flavors. There is some maltiness and raison-like sherry in the arrival as well. There is some noticeable oak in the arrival, which creeps into the body. Honey is also noticeable in the arrival, but it is masked slightly by a light green tea flavor in the arrival. There is a brief dark fruit flavor on the arrival, but it is hard to distinguish what is there.
Body: The body brings out notes of malt, with some enjoyable tangy citrus. There is molasses and complex fruit notes, but the character is dry and quick.
Finish: The finish has some dark flavors, with lush sherry notes and a compelling, fading tobacco note. The finish has some fruity cherry, slight mintiness, and herbal notes as well. The finish has a dry character, with black pepper, hot cinnamon, and allspice.
Nose: The nose brings out the sweetness in the malt a lot more. There is a more noticeable presence of oak in the nose, with a much more enjoyable balance. There is a little bit of red apple that comes out, with honey and caramel being very pronounced. There is a little more earthiness to the whisky as well.
Arrival: The arrival has an excellent balance of malt, honey, molasses, and earthiness. There is a hint of savory notes, with some gingerbread and sweet spice complimenting the sweetness. The blast of fruits is much improved from before. There is a lot of nuttiness in the whisky now.
Body: The nuttiness is big in the body, with brown sugar, oak, sherry and marmalade. The body is more definitive now, with a little bit more fruit flavor, citrus, and longevity.
Finish: The finish still has the oak and tobacco notes from previously, with the citrus lasting beyond the body and keeping the succulent fruits in the finish. The dryness is less extreme now, and there is a wonderful spiciness that lasts through the finish. The maltiness and a slight vegetal flavor is also present through the end of the whisky. There is an earthiness that couples with the whisky and makes the finish last.
Final Comments: Things did transform with this whisky over time. Besides having much more sweetness when the bottle was first opened, the whisky also had very different complexities. This isn’t a bottle of whisky you invest in if you’ll looking for next day dividends in satisfaction. This is a whisky you invest in for slow savoring. Despite this “conditionality” to the whisky, it is a fantastic statement of sherried complexity, and breaks the mundane pattern of Oloroso this and Oloroso that. It still lacks in complexity in certain areas, and it is highly recommended that water be put into this whisky to get any sort of appreciable experience. This is a whisky worth it’s dollar amount.
Why you’d buy it: You are looking for something that evolves, changes metaphorical colors, and offers up an engaging drinking experience with a sherry flavor.
Why you wouldn’t: The first time you open up a bottle is the last judgment you make on a whisky.