One of the most anticipated whisky releases of the year has landed at The Oak Barrel today – the re-revival of GlenDronach’s 15-Year-Old expression is back after a three-year break.GlenDronach 15-Year-Old Revival Single Malt
Based in Forgue in the eastern highlands of the Scotch regions, GlenDronach is considered one of the three grand sherry houses, alongside The Macallan and Glenfarclas. All three distilleries have long coaxed out weighty, powerful spirit that is best spent maturing in influential sherry casks. In modern times GlenDronach has, by flying relatively under-the-radar outside of dedicated whisky enthusiasts, showcased exceptional value.
Sometimes that value was even better than the label gave away.
GlenDronach is not unlike many Scottish distilleries in having quite a chequered past. Under the control of William Teachers & Sons since the mid-‘70s, the distillery operated as a workhorse for blends until it was deemed surplus to requirements and mothballed in 1996. Reopened and re-fired in May 2002, when the 15-year-old was introduced in 2009 it was drawing upon pre-closure stocks.
In real terms that meant that when we were drinking 15-year-old in 2015 we were drinking what had to have been a 20-year-old – at least. The pre-closure stocks just didn’t exist in the quantities needed to sustain it and it needed to take a spell on the bench (let alone with the 18 and 21-year-old expressions, which are now something like 23-years-old).
It’s become the thing of myths and legend in the years away, what was once the staple dram of those ‘in the know’ became a whisky resigned to auction sites.
Back on the shelves to scratch the sherry cask itch of the old faithful plus new discoverers, the Revival (or the re-Revival, should we say) in reasonable – but still limited quantities pre-Christmas. We don’t expect this last December.
The current 15-year-old expression is different to the first – of course it is. Not only have the stocks available in the warehouse changed, but so has the team. New master blender Rachel Barrie, who has spent over a quarter of a decade in whisky, has brought her own touch to this famous expression.
Clean sherry notes with plenty of boldness – fruitcake, dried raisins, caramel, chocolate and fruit spice. The initial sweetness balanced by a savoury, moreish palate. A step up in elegance and complexity from the gutsy 12-year-old, sits in nicely underneath the decadent 18-year-old.
All this aside, it also represents exceptional value upon return - $149 on the shelf, so $134.10 for members.