We’ve reached day 15 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, so what’s in store for us today? I think I can smell something sherried behind the window…
After checking the calendar (the one which isn’t filled with delicious whiskies – the paper one that has a different picture of a pug for each month and is covered in birthday reminders), I discovered that we’ve only got 10 days left until Christmas. You can count that on your fingers. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get surprised by how quickly December is going, but gosh dang it I am shook. Let’s take some time now to look at what dram is behind window #15 of the Whisky Advent Calendar and later make a plan to get back to panic-buying gifts for… Well, for everyone.
Today’s dram is… The GlenDronach 12 Year Old!
It looks like it’s been an exciting year for The GlenDronach – one that has been full of celebration! Rachel Barrie completed her first year as The GlenDronach’s (as well as BenRiach‘s and Glenglassaugh‘s) master blender. Both brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan and distillery manager Alan McConnochie became Keepers of the Quaich. A new bundle of The GlenDronach single cask releases were launched early on in the year, and just a few months ago the distillery relaunched its sorely missed Revival 15 Year Old. That’s more than enough reasons to raise a toast to The GlenDronach for a smashing 2018!
We chatted with the aforementioned GlenDronach master blender Rachel Barrie to find out more about the 12 year old expression in the Whisky Advent Calendar…
Master of Malt: Tell us a bit about the brand? What sets it apart?
Rachel Barrie: The GlenDronach is nestled in the valley of Forgue, deep in the East Highland hills. It is of true Highland style: a heavy and robust spirit, perfect for a long maturation period in sherry casks. At The GlenDronach Distillery, we ensure that we carry forth the tradition of our founder James Allardice in 1826, maturing our whisky in the finest Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks, marrying the best of Highland and Spanish skill and heritage to offer whiskies of elegant, complex character with tremendous depth of taste! The GlenDronach are connoisseurs in sherry cask maturation, and definitely stands out for its rich style.
MoM: What’s your favourite bit about working with the brand?
RB: I love working on all three of the Brown-Forman Scotch brands and being able to travel from the glen, the ‘ben’ and the sea. However, I have a soft spot for The GlenDronach as not only did I grow up nearby but it is my father’s favourite whisky. I also adore its dedication to using time-honoured methods with production. With the craftsmen still using the same iron mash tun, wooden washbacks and saxophone copper pot stills as their forefathers did, it’s a joy to see how this continues to help define its robust Highland flavour.
MoM: What’s next for the brand?
RB: Well 2018 was a big one for us with the return of cult classic The Revival, and it won double gold at the San Franscisco World Spirits Competition which was wonderful. Brown-Forman have invested heavily in the cask selection programme for The GlenDronach so expect the finest sherry casks and perhaps some very special cask bottlings released. Watch this space!
MoM: What do you love about your whisky in the calendar?
RB: The GlenDronach 12 showcases The GlenDronach’s dedication to the time-honoured methods and traditions since founding in 1826. It’s a richly sherried malt that I believe captures in a snapshot the work we do at The GlenDronach. For those exploring their first sherry casked whiskies, I would say it’s a brilliant introduction to the world of sherry cask.
MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas?
RB: As Christmas is a family affair, I’ll be enjoying a dram or two of The GlenDronach 18 with my dad and I love to celebrate quality family time with a loved one with a dram that has such a strong connection for us. Also, a GlenDronach Aged 12 Years is mandatory for your Christmas trifle or cake in my house!
Many thanks to Rachie Barrie for taking the time to speak with us (again – check out Annie’s Q&A with her from earlier in the year right here). Time to check out the dram itself!
Nose: Rich cereals, struck match, raisin, cinnamon, caramelised sugar. Opens with some sweeter PX and lots of delicious raw ginger before becoming creamier with hazelnuts.
Palate: Fruits, peels, buttery. Pain au chocolat, a little marmalade on toast before becoming firmer and nuttier with spiced raisins.
Finish: Smoky toffee and nut brittle.