april’s malt of the month

Glendronach 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch

It is no coincidence that Glendronach is my choice for April’s Malt of the Month. By the time you read this, I will have just returned from a trip to Scotland to visit this very distillery as part of Vine & Table’s exclusive single cask whisky program.

Glendronach is what I would call an ‘under the radar’ distillery. Not everyone is familiar with this distillery and its delicious malts. I am about to change that, right here, right now.

First, let me give you a little history. The distillery was founded in 1826 by James Allardice; ten years later, it was almost completely destroyed by fire.  After the rebuild, Allardice (who was apparently quite the character!) is rumored to have ensured the popularity of his whisky in Edinburgh by gifting a quantity of it to some local prostitutes after a failed sales trip to the city.

Following Allardice’s death, the distillery was taken over by Walter Scott (no, not the poet with the big monument in Edinburgh), who ran it until his death in the 1880s. In 1920, the distillery was bought for £9000 by Charles Grant, whose father had founded Glenfiddich. The distillery remained the property of the Grant family until 1960, when it was taken over by Allied Domecq, which in turn became Pernod Ricard. During this time, the Glendronach malt was a vital ingredient in Teacher’s Blended Scotch. In 1996 the distillery was mothballed. The distillery became active again in 2002, only to be shut down again a couple of years later.

Finally, in 2008, Pernod Ricard sold the distillery to a consortium headed by Billy Walker, owners of the independent Benriach distillery. Billy and his team then set about returning Glendronach to its rightful place as a distillery committed to producing traditional, heavily Sherried Highland malts. They revamped the line-up and re-introduced the 12 year old, followed by a 15 year old and an 18 year old.

The Original 12 year old is a whisky that deserves your attention. Why? Because if you drink Macallan, Balvenie, Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, or Aberlour, this whisky is going to be right up your alley. The whisky has been aged in Olorosso and Pedro Ximinez Sherry casks, which gives it power and depth. Highland toffee, fruit cake, maltiness, vanilla and some spice dominate the nose. It’s rich on the palate with the Sherry notes, raisins and the faintest wisp of light smoke. Its time spent in the Sherry casks gives it a lovely complexity, but at the same time remains an extremely drinkable whisky.

Now to the good part (“What could be better than that last paragraph,” I hear you ask?)!

Well, you’ve probably heard me grumble a bit over the last few months as the price of whisky from some of the better-known brands (with big marketing budgets!) has increased significantly and continues to rise. The guys at Glendronach (not being a big whisky company with a big marketing budget) are very aware of this issue and want people to be able to afford their whisky, which is why they were able to offer me a deal which actually lowers the price to a point that I believe is a tremendous value. What was $59.99 a bottle now becomes $49.99 a bottle.

A whisky of this caliber at that price is an absolute steal.

P.S. Stay tuned to my blog for news of my trip and our exclusive whisky finds!

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 Vine & Table #301