glendronach cask strength batch 12

GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 (2023)

Talk about a whisky that’s been a (beloved) staple for many years. The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 is the latest iteration in this much-lauded series, although my last experience has admittedly been below par.

The GlenDronach used to be the darling of the whisky world, but the distillery has lost some of its shine. That could be psychological, as most would prefer to root for the underdog. No longer is The GlenDronach an independent distillery that could. Instead, it became part of a large conglomerate, Brown-Forman. And it’s not cool to like big companies.

Yet, it’s not just the change of ownership. Not even two years ago GlenDronach removed the words non-chill-filtered from their packaging. Justifiably or not, it caused a massive upheaval among whisky fans and certainly tarnished the reputation of the brand.

The GlenDronach released a statement, saying “We have removed ‘Non-Chill-Filtered’ from our packaging to provide the flexibility in our processes to optimise consistently exceptional quality, flavour, clarity and stability.” It didn’t solve much. Optimising quality and chill-filtering whisky don’t exactly go hand in hand. (Although I suppose that depends on your definition of quality.)

This whole debacle doesn’t mean all products of The GlenDronach are now chill-filtered. There’s a good (and lengthy) article detailing the decision here. Even more so, The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 proudly states it is non-chill-filtered and bottled at natural colour. Which, if you understand chill-filtration a bit, makes sense for a cask strength whisky.

Having said that, the quality of The GlenDronach Cask Strength series hasn’t been consistent. Good to great early on, but not so much in more recent years. The low point, for me at least, was Batch 9. It was far from the quality that we had come to expect from The GlenDronach.

Although The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 is the most recent version, it was launched a while ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if a new edition is announced sometime soon. But for now, here’s my review of The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12.

glendronach cask strength batch 12 closeup

GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 (58.2%, OB, 2023)

Nose: I get touches of orange marmalade, mocha, some nougat and damp leaves, as well as amber ale, white peaches and dried apricots. Finally some strong breakfast tea. There are some acidic notes to offset the sweet, slightly malty base. Which I guess is a convoluted way of saying it’s fairly balanced.
Taste: Decent viscosity and initial sweetness, but the oak is rather prominent. A peppery (Szechuan) arrival with orange pith, tobacco, ginger and a bit of sandalwood. Also some burnt toast, caramel, menthol and dark chocolate.
Finish: Medium to long. Menthol and black tea with some oranges.

While this is a big step up from Batch 9, the GlenDronach Cask Strength series no longer is the epitome of a luscious sherry-matured whisky. There's is plenty going on, but The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12 is also somewhat harsh and unpolished.

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