There are the peat lovers and then the sherry affinite; this review takes a dive for the latter with the expression of choice a well known entry level Sherry bomb – the Glendronach 12 YO! This little bugger of a whisky is well known with sherry lovers, and takes similar rank as the Macallan’s with far less devastating effects to the wallet. The last time I had a Glendronach, was the Forgue, a 10 YO travel retail exclusive and so it was but a matter of time that I would sink my moustache into this warm, sherry laden older sibling!
The distillery leverages mainly Sherry and Pedro Xiemenes European casks for their maturation; with the recent inclusion of port for their Peated Port Wood expression. Funny enough, the distillery did almost switch to seasoning virgin American Oak barrels with Sherry or PX to later mature their own, at the time when Pernod Ricard owned the distillery. Glendronach fans as you might have guessed weren’t pleased and were quick to raise their displeasure, compelling the distillery to buy a heap of European casks and replace most if not all of their American barrels.
In all fairness, this practice isn’t alien in the industry but rather getting rampant with the increasing shortage of European sherry casks. Distillers purchase and season the cheaper and more easily available American oak barrels with sherry, port or other wines for a few years before having them mature their distilled spirits. The outcome isn’t the same, as the flavour profile imparted from American oak differs from its rarer counterpart.
ABV : 43%
Eye : Deep Copper | Non Chill filtered, Natural Colouring
Nose : Sweet sherry and caramel custard, almonds, plums and raisins, sprinkled with earthy wood. Savoury notes with barley laced with green pears, hints of cocoa and herbal queues. Finally a bit of spice from ginger peels, toast, cardamom and pepper.
Taste : Sweet and heavy, with shards of dark chocolate, some barley infused with port, leaving the palate a bit dry. There’s caramel drizzle over plum cake, a dash of raisins, accompanied with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg along with some mild earthiness, possibly from the wood.
Finish : Medium to long | Port wine with hints of nutmeg.
The 12 is delightful to nose with good depth and breadth on the palate; the nose is a bounty and has a lot to offer. Literally you get the pleasure to see how wood and wine have given life to this expression. It might be an entry level scotch but ticks all the boxes in terms of what a sherry bomb should be. I could see a few drops of water do justice on the palate; with flavours being bound shoulder to shoulder, needing some opening up. At AUD $90, it is a tad expensive, but that could be the premium one has to shell considering you are getting all that maturation from quality European oak!