The Musketeers Visit Glendronach Distillery
We got wind that the new Glendronach 15 year-old Revival was being released exclusively at the distillery shop, so we decided on an early morning trek to Huntley...
We hatched a plan to get from Edinburgh to Huntley in time for opening... excellent, only issue is we would have to set off before 6am, however for the love of Glendronach and to be one of the first to get our hands on the new release, we did exactly that.
Although the journey through the most stunning scenery in the world paved the way, we had little time to soak it up, let alone capture the awe-inspiring sights for our blog. For nearly 4 hours, meandering along the highways, cities and towns, we finally arrived at the golden arches – nope we already visited McDonalds, the Dronach Arches that pointed us in the direction of the visitors centre and distillery shop.
It’s nearly 9:50am – ten minutes until the distillery shop opens and we’re surprised to see that we’re the only ones to be present. A jovial guide, Lewie was first to welcome us and we were led through to the shop, victorious – we were first to buy the newly released Glendronach 15 Revival. Mission accomplished, time to go home? NO! We booked in for a tour of course! Considering the ridiculous amounts of Glendronach in our collections, it would be rude not to…
Before embarking on our tour, we were warned that the distillery was in a working phase, photos within the distillery aren’t allowed – which was a disappointment but understandable. Lewie took us around the distillery, guiding and talking us through the processes old and new. We had a look inside the old kiln – cobwebs and all, viewed the mash tun being re-filled, checked each of the wooden washbacks, witnessing the fermentation process at different stages – the smell was unmistakable.
Moving on, we walked through the still room, 4 gorgeous copper towers are working hard to produce the next batch of spirit – two wash and two spirit stills. Unfortunately, the stills are no longer directly fired/heated by the furnaces below – the last distillery in Scotland to do so, now replaced with internal heating elements. Next is the dual spirit safes, housed in the still room - Lewie explains that Glendronach’s new make spirit is on average of 68.7% ABV and is cut back to around 63.5% ABV before cask filling - usually first fill Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks. Any spirit that doesn't meet the high standards is recycled back in to the process - nothing is wasted apparently and rightly so.
Time to have a few drams which are included in the tour, 18 year-old Allardice, 21 year-old Parliament and the 25 year-old hand filled distillery exclusive. We're not going to review these whiskies in this blog, however in our opinion the 18 year-old Allardice was the superior whisky on the nose, palate and finish. It's a great example of Glendronach, fine balance of sherry, wood and spirit. The 21 year-old Parliament is good but it is a little overpowered by wood, there's not a whole lot of spirit character left and at the price point, the Allardice is a far greater whisky. This leaves the distillery exclusive 25 year-old which is quite expensive - £250, for this price we were expecting something along the lines of the amazing Single Cask range, however it was somewhat unremarkable and lacklustre. The Allardice wins.
That was pretty much the tour, it was relatively short but informative, hopefully next time we'll get more access to capture more of what goes on inside the distillery itself. Recommended for any Glendronach fan..
Old meets new...
So back to why we originally planned the trip – getting our hands on the newly re-released 15 years-old Revival. We were kindly given permission to take pictures on the grounds of the distillery and what better place than the iconic Forgue cart? Time to get some pictures of both of the Revivals together, compare and contrast, a bit of nosing and of course - tasting!
Original Revival Notes
Instant Christmas cake and heavily sherried fruits, muscovado sugar, toffee, zingy chocolate orange, old leather – like an old brief case, polish and quite oily. Subtle hints of peat appear if you look closely , usually after a bottle is half finished and sat for a few weeks.
Very rich, fruity oil, lots of treacle, toffee, dark chocolate, coffee, muscovado sugar, toasted oak and nuts with dried winter fruits. More dark chocolate and old leather, a decent amount of spice and cloves, hints of cinnamon and sugary honey.
Quite long and lingering, wood spices with an orange tang, complex, more Christmas cake, dried dates and raisins. Big and bold wood influence.
Re-release Revival Notes
Instant sherry, dried fruits such as; raisins, dates and prunes with freshly made butter toffee. Dark chocolate, barley, orange, polish and macadamia nuts. After 10 minutes in the glass there’s a subtle hint of coconut and honey appearing with some salted caramel.
Initially sweet with a velvety texture, a mixture of red and dark fruits with the butter toffee appearing from the nose. Honied bread, slightly salted with hints of cracked black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. More dark chocolate and macadamia nuts, oak and a peppery cedar wood note appearing before the finish.
Medium – long, more wood spices, cloves and orange oil before a slight drying end.
So, the controversial conclusion… The new Revival certainly has big shoes to fill and as a standalone 15 year-old whisky it is a great product, does it meet the high bar of the older brother – sadly not. This is not necessarily a bad thing; however, nostalgia kicks-in and you can’t help but compare the older, richer discontinued version to the newer, sweeter version.
Honestly, Glendronach should have been smarter and branded the new release differently, rather than rehash the Revival name as it’s a solid core range product in its own right. Sometimes it just makes more sense to have a clean break from the old and make way for the new.
We’re certainly not disappointed with the new 15 Revival as we enjoyed this release for what it is. Colour wise, it’s lighter in appearance and slightly spirity on the nose, less body and richness and less heavy on the sherry. We have to keep in mind that the older Revival was matured solely in Oloroso casks and rumoured to be considerably older than the new, true 15 year-old, vatted Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso release.
End of blog...
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