The WWI spy movie that catalyzed its creation may have been bumped to 2021, but The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage was released this past August. At 29 years old, you can argue that it’s waited long enough.
There’s a thematic reason for its extended age: It’s inspired by the oldest bottle of scotch whisky at The Glendronach Distillery, a 29-year-old bottled in 1913. That whisky was purchased by three friends departing for the First World War, with a vow to split it on their return. But only one of the three made it home, and the surviving soldier never opened the bottle. It was later donated to the distillery, where it is displayed as a symbol of remembrance.
Six casks, which began their aging process in oloroso sherry before a final maturation in Pedro Ximénez, were selected to make up this single malt. It pours as perhaps the darkest, reddest whisky I’ve ever encountered, like the bark of a redwood tree after rainfall.
Its nose has prominent blackberry jam, plus autumn fruits including apricot and pear. Also of note is a beautiful scent of aged leather, like sliding into a lovingly maintained booth at a fine restaurant.
Those autumn fruits are present on the palate from the very start, with pear, apricot, blackberry jam, quince, and marmalade leading the charge. Each of the fruits has a darkly sweet, jellied character that proves quite pleasant.
The sherry influence becomes apparent at the center with figs, raisins and dates, plus a lightly syrupy note of sticky toffee pudding. Through this point, its higher proof and impressive age statement aren’t entirely apparent in the experience—it’s been a sweet, round ride. But it dries out towards the back with the emergence of baking spice before transitioning to rich leather and cigar box. The finish is long and gentle, with satisfying pinpricks of spice and an everlasting note of date juice.
Sherry cask maturation has been The GlenDronach’s bread-and-butter since the distillery was established in 1826. At its advanced age, Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage takes its characteristic sherried notes and full bodied-ness to another level, creating what may be the ultimate GlenDronach lover’s GlenDronach.
— 51% ABV