Just mention Glendronach Distillery to any whisky aficionado and there are good chances the words ‘Sherry Casks’ will popup in the discussion quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. After all, Glendronach are recognized for the fabulous work they do with Oloroso and PX sherry casks, either with the OB bottlings or with the single casks batches.
But it’s not a catholic marriage as Glendronach do Squint sideways and ‘sin’ with different cask types and finishes. There are port finishes (like the 15/18yo I reviewed here) and wine finishes. Lately Glendronach releases a few new interesting non-sherry finishes: Sauternes and Marsala wine finishes and today we’ll review the Sauternes release.
It’s a 12 year old expression which replaces the 14 yo Sauternes finish expression from four years ago (which has now been discontinued). Did you notice the reduced age? The same happened now with Benriach Sauternes (reduced from 16 to 15) as the demand for whisky far outstrip the available warehouse-matured casks. Anyway, this whisky is initially matured in European oak and then finished in a small batch of Sauternes wine casks. Not all Sauternes finishes are good as it does lend some strong influence of sweet and wine tannins. Let’s check how well does it work here.
Nose: Starts with sweet white wine including some tannins, very fresh. Then some scented fruits and gentle sweet notes of pears and green unripe apples (it bite a bit with acidity). Also showing: green cardamom. Overall it’s a very gentle and delicate nose, sweet and rounded.
Palate: Sweet and malty at first and sweet white wine is joining the party. After the first wave recedes, we get win tannins, oak bitterness and smooth nutty and spicy spread.
Finish: Medium finish, not much of the sweetness is left at this stage – it’s delicate nuts spread, oak wood bitterness and spices.
Thoughts: It’s an solid dram and even a bit entertaining. It starts as a sweet whisky on nose and at first swallow but then it transforms into somewhat tannin-y and bitter dram, yet not crossing the thin line of being too bitter, being gentle and rounded. If you’re into not-so-sweet Sauternes or love the flip-flop between sweet and bitter, look no further than this whisky.