Travel inside the legendary distilleries: Glendronach
Le Comptoir Irlandais team went to Glendronach to discover the latest bottlenecks in the distillery and make exclusive selections.
With the words of our whisky expert, Quentin T., we share this adventure with you.
After The Balvenie two days earlier, over a week more and more sunny (yes yes, that's true), according to our malted travels, here we are today at the edge of Speyside and the Highlands, at the gates of another mythical distillery: Glendronach.
Little known to the general public, Glendronach is a very small distillery. A distillery that will soon be celebrating its 200th anniversary and whose name clicks powerfully in the ears and on the palates of informed tasters! Few people remain insensitive to Glendronach.
Glendronach, at one exception, does not produce peated whisky. However, with the power and the presence in mouth of this whisky, even an amateur of Islay peat often ends up bowing!
We are here front to a distillery that has set up its character and legend on three things: the visionary ideas of its founder, a powerful distillate and the absolute mastery of Spanish sherry casks.
1826: whiskey is booming. It’s been just over two years since the British government introduced the "Excise Act". This is the end of illegal distillation and the start of a first commercial golden age for our darling brandy!
James Allardice, an entrepreneur and businessman, inherited lands a few dozen kilometers north of Aberdeen. Located on the shopping route between Inverness, Elgin and Aberdeen, with a source nearby and with a promising whisky industry, James Allardice needed no more to found his distillery with his nephew, a young chemist, and his cousin, a barley grower.
The addition of James Allardice’s commercial vision and the knowledge of his associates quickly made the distillery rise to the rank of reference in terms of quality at a time when inconsistency was the norm!
The crow’s parliament that watches over the distillery whispers that Glendronach would even be the first distillery in Scotland to have used the sherry casks, today so coveted in the world of whisky.
Back to the future…
Over the years, at the bottom of the small valon where Glendronach hides, the distillery developed a powerful character. Today as since 1826, barley comes from a radius of 30 minutes around the distillery. The fermentation is long and the distillation in stills of small sizes, stocky, at the descending neck gives a heavy, fat, powerful and rich distillate! This morning, the four stills purr loudly and brown their brass behind the huge canopy of the Still House which offers a stunning view of the wine cellars and the countryside of Aberdeenshire!
After nearly 200 years of aging the vast majority of its spirit in the cask of sherry, Glendronach has probably risen today as one of the absolute references on this very precise character given by these Spanish wine casks!
Glendronach’s cellar master Rachel Barrie shows a disconcerting ease in combining two types of sherry that sound like an invitation to tasting.
The Pedro Ximenez (PX) brings its fruits and its suave texture. The Olorosso brings its power, its spices, its roasted notes! The use of its two wonders balances the power and richness of the spirit and gives an enormous aromatic intensity.
Despite the hallucinating 19°C of late morning, the cellars remain cool and humid. The bicentennial stone walls do not allow any light to pass through. The huge 500-litre Sherry Butt, laid right here on the ground, is probably one of the most perfect places on this planet to age 12, 18 years… several decades. These traditional cellars, low, clay, are ideal for long aging. The constant freshness throughout the year prevents too much of the angels. Nevertheless, the drums remain under high surveillance. If the volume does not change much, the alcohol level can drop rapidly under these conditions, and if it goes below 40%, the precious brandy loses its whisky name! The eyebrow of the barrels takes on all its importance here, a barrel of high quality will avoid excessive losses of alcohol.
At Glendronach, the fruity and chocolaty aromas do not rhyme with sweetness. What this "old school" distillery produces is the perfect example of a whisky that is not peated and tasty, but which, with its massive texture in the mouth, is also a challenge for palates and a true tasting experience unique in the world of whisky.
The entire range is a favourite… Sherry is the frame of the whole, the identity card of Glendronach. It will always bring its «full option» pack: fruits/ spices/ roasted notes… but each bottle, according to its age, develops its character.
- 12 years 43% : gourmet
- 15 years 46% : balance
- 18 years 46% (100% Olorosso) : strenght
- 21 years 48% : complexity
- Cask Strenght n°8 61% : robust
- Peated 46% : slightly peated
Article written by Quentin T.