Whisky Reviews: The GlenDronach 15 Year Old, 21 Year Old

Editor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as review samples by The Glendronach/Brown-Forman. 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 links 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.

The GlenDronach, like many Scottish distilleries, has seen its ups and downs in its near 200 years. The distillery, founded in 1826, was one of the first licensed distilleries in Scotland. Distillery workers and their families lived on site at the Glen House, which is supposedly haunted by a Spanish lady who travelled over in a sherry cask. Hopefully not the cask to age the first batch of The GlenDronach single malt.

Before 1996, when the distillery was mothballed, it changed ownership many times. The GlenDronach distillery laid dormant for six years until is went into full production again in 2002. The distillery continued changing ownership from Allied Distillers to Chivas Brothers to BenRiach until finally landing at Brown-Forman in 2016.

Alas, The GlenDronach Distllery ceased production of its 15-year-old whisky in 2015. As a fan favourite, it was discontinued to supply constraints…that is until now. The 15-year-old now goes by the Revival and continues to represent The GlenDronach’s signature style. For 15 years, the single malt whisky sits in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks from the Andalucia region in Spain.

The GlenDronach Parliament 21 Year Old has remained in their permanent line-up. Where a colony of crows in called a “murder,” a colony of rooks is called a “parliament.” Rooks nest in the trees overlooking The GlenDronach Distillery, and they have inspired the name for the rich 21-year-old expression.

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It’s been awhile since we have reviewed The GlenDronach 15 Year Old, and The GlenDronach 21 Year Old. Keep in mind, this is the first time we are reviewing the 15-year-old expression since it was discontinued and rebranded as the “Revival,”  so let’s see how they taste.

The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival

The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival (image via Brown-Forman)

Tasting Notes: The Glendronach Revival 15 Year Old

Vital Stats: 46% ABV. Highland single malt matured for 15 years in fine Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucia. 750ml ~$90.

Appearance: Tarnished brass with glints of pinot noir.

Nose: Cherry, bold fig, and raising combine with the malt to make it feel like Italian Christmas fruit cake. There is some espresso and cocoa nib on the back end. It’s fruity, with a mixture of orange zest and cherry. With a little marzipan on the finish, it reminds me of orange and cranberry biscotti.

Palate: The mouthfeel is silky. My favourite not in a scotch is a cigar ash taste with a hint of leather and boy does this dram deliver. The malted barley doesn’t overpower, and neither does the oak. For this whisky, it is about balance, and you can’t have any flavor without the other. The leather that finishes it off mingles with dried oak from a campfire to give you a familiarity and nostalgia.

Final Thoughts: Oooooo. The GlenDronach 15 Year Old is a straight up representation of the distillery. One you nose and taste it, you’ll realize why it had a cult following and couldn’t keep up with demand. You get the sherry, but most importantly, you get a specimen that shows off the patience of maturity. Buy it, although I don’t want you to so that I can keep it all to myself.

Overall, it is a pivotal classic expression from The GlenDronach that makes its way into my top five scotches. It is just that good. For me to give the score below, you know that it is a perfect dram of whisky.

Score: 5/5

Tasting Notes: The Glendronach Parliament 21 Year Old

Vital Stats: 48% ABV. Highland single malt matured for 21 years in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. 750ml ~$150.

Appearance: Polish mahogany.

Nose: At the beginning, almond but not in a marzipan sort of way comes in like a fresh made macron. It reminds me of a wet leaf pile trying to burn.

Palate: The mouthfeel starts of dry and acrid, but it’s a mixture of oak types creating this sensation. Black peppercorn heightens the palate before moving forward to make way for bold roast espresso beans. The finale comes off with a bright burst of citrus zest. It still retains a bitter quality from the espresso, but the finish ends with cocoa nibs lingering on the tongue.

Final Thoughts: While I thought it was tasty, the dryness and woodiness just took it down a notch. Maybe if the age was 18 years or even 20 years. Still good, but the 15-year-old, and other expressions outrank in terms of flavor. It is warm, and the afterglow even sneaks up on you. However, while I say it is warm, it is from the spice on the profile.

Score: 4/5