Glendronach 15 Year Revival: 46% abv
Background: This whisky just recently made it into Michigan. At a good price and a good presentation, KCM is more than excited to have this whisky in Michigan. Earlier last year, we reviewed Glendronach 12 Year (Review # 162, 5/25/13), and found it to be a decent alternative at a reasonable price. The 12 Year, as a reminder, is aged with PX and Oloroso sherry casks. The 15 Year, at 46%, is aged in Oloroso sherry casks exclusively. As a result, this is one of the darkest looking whiskies we’ve ever reviewed, but it is natural color. This whisky is rather pricy, so the question is: does this compete well with the other sherry Scotches we can buy on the shelf today, like Aberlour, Balvenie, and Macallan? Let’s find out.
Nose: This whisky starts off with an unsurprising portion of sherry prominence and a healthy portion of raison smell, which is rich and flavorful right off of the bat. Contributing to the sweetness is a rich smell of vanilla and caramel, with a dry cocoa in the back. There is some woodiness in it, close to oak and catalpa. To add contrast, some floral aromas add overtones of bitterness to the nose. There is a little bit of rich cherry and apple flavor in the nose, with a subtlety of malt and wheat graininess helping contributing to the aroma. There is some sweet marmalade that accentuates the sweetness of the nose. There is a mild saltiness in the whisky, but it certainly doesn’t present itself as overly dominant. An additional spiciness of clove and cinnamon are noticeable. Finally, a small hint of earthiness is present in smell.
Arrival: The arrival starts off with a really syrupy mouthfeel, a thick sherry taste, with a hot spiciness. There are rich fruits of apple and raisons, along with hot cinnamon and clove. There is a big presence of maple and molasses on the arrival. There is also a confectionary sweetness in the arrival, almost like cookie dough.
Body: The body is where the spiciness kicks into overdrive. There is a note of apple and sweet sherry, with tart huckleberry adding to the thickness. There is a lot of earthiness and greenness in the body. There is a taste of Angostura Bitters in the body.
Finish: The finish provides a blast of sherry after it resides from the body. There is a large amount of spiciness in the finish, with cinnamon, gingerbread and clove most prevalent. There is a very malty presence here in the finish. A fresh mintiness is noticeable as the whisky fades down. There is a surprising vegetal quality in the finish. The barrel really comes out in this whisky.
Nose: There is a lot more oakiness in the whisky from before. The spiciness is getting a lot bigger here than before, with clove being the distinguishing smell. A slightly more vegetal note is coming through, with a little bit of burning tobacco on the nose as well. In addition, there is a note of brown sugar available.
Arrival: The arrival is much more grain forward than before, with the maltiness being more forward than before. The spice is in perfect play with the sweetness, with the sherry being in perfect proportion.
Body: The body lends itself to a good blend of grain, spiciness, and sherry. This has a lot going on, and is in perfect distribution.
Finish: The finish is a perfect blend of different flavors, dialing in the medley of spiciness, grain, sherry and saltiness. This whole thing has become much more balanced. The dry spiciness is what tends to last through the finish the most.
Final Comments: This is absolutely what it should be. This is a beautiful blend of spiciness, maltiness, and the fantastic sherry flavor that contribute to a perfect balance. When you first see this spirit, you might be wary that this will be overly sweet and syrupy up front, but it is absolutely not that at all. This is one of the finest examples of sherried Scotch we have yet to try (there are still plenty to be tried, mind you). The complexity is there, and with just a little bit of water, it was hard for us to even focus on tasting notes. My recommendation is if you get a chance to try this Scotch, don’t hesitate. It is worth the money, and we will be trying to make this last.
Why you’d buy it: You don’t like the color green.
Why you wouldn’t: You don’t like sherried Scotch, and therefore you’re probably a bad person.
Score: 9.75 /10