The GlenDronach is one of Scotland’s oldest licensed distilleries: It’s been in the game since 1826. Since that time, the Highland distillery has earned a reputation for its investment in sherry cask finishes. A testament to that focus is the recently released The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993, which spent 25 years aging in hand-selected Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks.
Its rich nose suggests sherry, prunes, cured and smoked meats, brandy-soaked desserts, and even a slight whiff of the “burning tire” note often applied to Laphroaig. The first flavors on the palate are sweet, dark, and deep: port wine, sherry, chocolate-covered raisins, and prunes in their juices. The whisky is medium in body, with a slippery texture that almost slides off the tongue. Those initially sweet notes are countered at the center, where dry barrel notes emerge alongside salt and smoke. The finish turns sweet and nutty, serving candied pecans alongside a wispy, salty element of smoke and dry spice flavors recalling cigar box, cinnamon, and baking spices. It’s a long, deliberate finish that takes its time and rewards a bit of quiet contemplation on the drinker’s part.
The alternating shades of dark, sherry-influenced sweetness and the smoky, salty, almost briny flavors that typify scotch whisky is a thing to behold. What’s even more impressive is that The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 does its trick more than once: It begins with a bold, dark sweetness that’s nearly washed away at the center before its candied element returns at the end, intertwined with smoke and salt. Considering the effects, I wouldn’t have minded a third showing.
— 48.2% ABV