Whisky Review: The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Glendronach. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

A 29-year-old gifted bottle sits unopened at The GlenDronach distillery. Originally bottled in 1913 just before the start of WWI, three friends each purchased a bottle. Before leaving for war, they each vowed to open the whisky when they returned. Alas, only one man safely returned home but never opened his bottle. This rare bottle serves as inspiration for the most recent GlenDronach involvement with the Kingsman movies. It remains on display in remembrance of fallen friends.

The Kingsman series gears up for a 2021 release of its latest movie; a prequel titled The King’s Man. A spy genre wouldn’t be complete without the proper whisk(e)y accompaniment. Like the Kingsman sequel, The Golden Circle, with its Old Forester collaboration, The King’s Man will also release a special collaboration whisky with GlenDronach. This is not the first time the two have partnered together. 

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition is a 1989 vintage. GlenDronach’s Master Distiller, Dr. Rachel Barrie, and Kingsman Director, Matthew Vaughn, chose six barrels first matured in Oloroso sherry casks and additionally matured in Pedro Ximenez casks. While the previous GlenDronach Kingsman Edition was a 1991 vintage tied to Kingsman agent Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin’s birth year, the new release is more relevant to the Kingsman Creed. 

The culmination of this collaboration is summed up by GlenDronach, “The GlenDronach is revered for the dedication to exquisite sherry cask matured Single Malt since 1826. Like the Kingsman creed, our values have remained constant; impossible perfection built on unshakeable tradition.” Bottled in 2018, The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is the newest 29-year-old whisky at the distillery. 

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage (image via Brown-Forman)

Tasting Notes: The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage

Vital Stats: 50.1%ABV. Six Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez matured casks from 1989 were hand-selected to produce 3,052 bottles. 700ml $1,299.

Appearance: Roasted hazelnut. 

Nose: At first whiff, the raisin is sweet and abundant. The sweetness also has a touch of crème brulee to it. However, there’s a creeping balsamic vinegar reduction that tinges the nose. Fig and all-spice, or mulling spices, meet in the middle. On the end is a damp, mossy musk reminiscent of a fallen tree. 

Palate: The mouthfeel is oily and viscous. Adding in the sweetness, it’s almost like a rich demerara syrup. Raisin and clove swirl together with a touch of black peppercorn and fig. The finish goes back and forth between resin and black tea. 

The Takeaway

Summary

While The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is good, it's not necessarily great either. The almost sherry or balsamic vinegar note on the nose is not wanted, but it's not so overpowering that it ruins the experience. It does drink a bit hot with the spice on the flavor profile. The main factor for not giving the whisky at least a 4 out of 5 is the bitter black tea and resin notes on the finish. Adding a drop of water upped the all-spice and black peppercorn but gave it a waxy mouthfeel.

Overall, The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is worth at least trying. I can think of how many other bottles I could buy with $1299. I can appreciate collaborations with the movie industry, but I think better energy could be spent elsewhere.

3.5
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