One evening in the not to distant past, my son dropped by for a visit and we decided to do a vertical tasting of SMSW from the Glendronach Distillery. Glendronach was one of my early, pleasant experiences in SMSW. Teachers Blended Scotch is one of my sons’ favorite blends. Glendronach is one of the primary single malts used in Teachers’ blend. So, it seems fitting that he might like the malt. Over the past few years he has tasted a few of the different expressions, but never so many in a row, and probably not all of them. I don’t get out the 19yo and the 1968 too often.
This event was primarily spurred by a recent “dusty bottle” find while out hunting. The find that day was a few bottles of the older version of the Glendronach 12yo “sherry cask” edition, (SCORE!) long since out of production and arguably a world class whisky that frankly, the distillery has never been able to reproduce with the newer 15yo and the even more recent 12yo. This old one is a “cracker”! (Although, IMHO, the new 12yo kicks butt on the past 15yo version, hands down!)
Having said that, the malts are pictured in the order that my son finally decided that they tasted the best. (His current preference is for older, woodier flavor profiles) (That’s why the 12 and the 15 are out of order in my book. Also, I‘d of probably put the 12yo sherry cask edition after the 19yo, but again polished oak and a hint of old smooth leather won the day for his palate, but that placement could have been be argued with fervor)
The order was:
12yo new release
15yo previous release
10yo Signatory single barrel
12yo “sherry cask” edition
Once the order was established and we were satisfied with bottle arrangement, we took time out and enjoyed, individually, the remainder in each glass of the top three whiskies in the flight. The remaining balance of the other glasses were “vatted” together. The two glasses with whisky were the vatting. Surprisingly, the mix was significantly better than expected. I don’t recall what instigated the photo, there must have been a “Scottish Mist” in the air.
In my tasting experience, covering the glass to control and isolate competing smells or aromas is important. Also, the ability to “find” the finer points of any particular whisky are significantly compromised after small amounts, even totaling less than 1 ounce, have been consumed. I feel that if any inebriation is even perceptible, my ability to recognize flavors and sensations is greatly diminished, at which point in time if I’m not having to drive somewhere…I go straight from tasting to drinking. I differentiate greatly between the two. While stronger tastes can still be experienced at any time, the finer notes seriously become blurred and harder to find as inebriation increases.
I greatly enjoy the differences in tastes food and drink! Some tastes are not so good, some are better, and some are delicious. Comparing two delicious whiskies and trying to label one better that the other becomes very subjective, and really, at the end of the day, it boils down to a preference in personal palate! They can just be different and still be superior whiskies!
(I reserve the harsh or “bad” label for a select few drams out there,. They might include but certainly not be limited to: Welch whisky 10yo, Solan #1, VAT 69 Gold and the recent addition to the list of the “new “ version of Old Forester 100 proof) Here, I’d welcome your input to the list so to ascertain which ones to avoid in the future. Although, one cannot fully appreciate how good , good whisky is, if one does not recognize how bad, bad whisky can be. Or, in other words, a good Porterhouse steak wouldn’t have the same value today unless we’ve eaten some hamburger along the way.
Since this picture was taken, I've added a 12yo distilled in 1963, "wine label" version and the new release 33yo.