This weekend I met with friends to taste and drink some whisky so I had a proper excuse to open up one of my recent purchases, the Glendronach 18 Year Old Tawny Port Finish which replaces the younger 15 Year old.
During the evening, after opening and tasting the 18yo, some of the tasters said they preferred the 15yo they tasted before as it’s sweeter and the 18yo felt a bit “watered down”.
Funnily enough, our host had that 15 yo bottle so as a whisky geek, the next logical step materialized clear as crystal in my mind: head to head
battle comparison! As my palate was already saturated I grabbed a sample of the 15yo from our host and the next evening I sat down and tasted the 15yo and the 18 one next to each other to find out who’s the better sibling.
Glendroach 15 Year Old Tawny Port Cask Finish (46%, €51)
Nose: Sweet and light, at first quite lot of youth and new make whiffs and vanilla but darkness lures below. Cloves, cinnamon, raisins soaked in rum, dried plums. Given some time in glass it get sweeter, dark cherries jam and more plums & compote
Palate: Dried fruits, sour berries, plums, chocolate, dark brown sugar, bitterness of nutmeg, cinnamon and oak.
Finish: Oak coffee grounds, dried berries, bit of nutmeg and at the very end sour unripe berries
Glendroach 18 Year Old Tawny Port Cask Finish (46%, £65.45 / €65)
Nose: Darker yet still sweet even if not as sweet as the 15yo. There are no youth nor young spirit notes, darkness on front, buttery dark chocolate, cloves, plums, dried fruits.
Palate: Berries, both sweet & sour but rounder and not as sour as 15yo, choc / coffee, brown sugar, spicy but not as bitter as the younger sibling.
Finish: Dry with lingering bitterness of oak & cinnamon, chocolate & espresso, dark sweetness.
Thoughts: I don’t think there’s a clear winner-take-it-all here. Both are rich and mouth coating whiskies. The 15yo is sweeter and livelier (especially if you give it some time to breath) but I feel that the 18yo is a tad better suiting my taste as it’s more elegant, rounded and darker as befitting its age and the price is excellen. But if you prefer the 15yo you’re not missing out much and it’s still available out there for a very decent price.