Review: GlenDronach Port Wood

I thoroughly enjoy a good port from time to time, and so did the Scots in the 19th century. Back then port was imported in the cask, and it seems likely that some of those barrels ended up with whisky as their content after its last drops of port had been enjoyed. The distillery aims to commemorate this old practice by finishing this GlenDronach Port Wood for a full three years in port pipes from Portugal’s Douro Valley.

That means the Port gets its fair share of time to impact its flavours on this dram. And no shortcuts we’re taken on the initial barrels either. Because the amber liquid that sits in my glass was initially aged in PX and Oloroso sherry casks for at least 7 years. On paper that means this dram has all the ingredients to offer plenty of complexity (and I’m expecting plenty of dried fruits in there as well). Let’s find out if that’s indeed how this whisky turned out!

Tasting Notes: GlenDronach Port Wood
Stats:

ABV: 46% (92 proof)

Age: 10 years old

Distillery: The GlenDronach Distillery

Owned by: Brown-Forman Corporation

Category: Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

It’s Sunday the 8th of January and we just finished putting all the Christmas decorations back in the attic and giving the house a thorough cleaning. After which we went for a nice long walk with the dogs on an old abandoned golf course. Where they could roam freely and play to their hearts content. Back home I poured this GlenDronach Port Wood Neat into a Glencairn, put my feet up in the recliner and I was all set to enjoy this Sunday afternoon’s dram.

Nose:

I recently enjoyed a Christmas fruit pudding and this resembles it so closely that it’s initially hard to look past. Not that I mind that too much though, as it was a dish I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s full of rich fruits and I’m detecting abundant amounts of dried figs, plums and raisins. Once I do manage to look past the Christmas fruit pudding,  I’m starting to find apple syrup. The old-fashioned style of apple syrup that still comes in a tin can, and has some raisins blended into it.

A few drops of water dial down the intensity of the nose a little bit, almost rejuvenating the fruits. As I’m now getting fresh plums and figs instead of their dried variants. The apple syrup starts to move more in the direction of molasses, though it’s not fully there yet. Still very enjoyable though!

I do advise warming up this dram a bit in your hand before diving in, as those rich dark fruit flavours become more pronounced when this whisky is warmed up a little.

Palate:

There’s plenty of thick sweetness on the palate as well. I’m once again finding that old style of apple syrup here which brings forth memories of my grandmother serving me slices of rye bread covered with a thick layer of it. My mind perhaps went to rye bread because there’s also some spice and a slight bitterness in it. Though I don’t quite get rye spice from it when I try to focus on it, in fact it comes closer to liquorice root. These notes never become overwhelming though, in fact they compliment the sweetness in a very pleasant way. I’m getting hints of ginger as well and suddenly orange and dark chocolate start to pop up. The combination of which reminds immediately of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.

Water chips away at the syrupy quality a little bit, nudging the palate of this dram more towards candy flavours. Reminiscent of a “wijnbal”, an old-fashioned Dutch candy which is basically an oversized fruit flavoured hard candy. The ginger gets turned up a few notches as well and becomes much more dominant. Gingerbread cookies also come to mind.

Finish:

The finish of this dram has a medium length. With some of the darker chocolates notes from the palate being carried beautifully into the finish. The ginger stays strong on the finish as well and I’m also getting some lingering tannin notes. But despite the fact that these are darker and perhaps perceivably rougher flavours, they stay balanced beautifully. If you don’t appreciate chocolates with a higher cacao percentage, you might enjoy this finish a little less though. Most of the fruit influences that I found on the nose and palate are hard to discern on the finish, perhaps a little bit of orange and plum remains but it’s not easy to spot. If anything the sweeter influences nudge more towards actual liquorice now (instead of just the liquorice root I noticed on the palate).

Water has a very positive effect on the intensity of the finish. It lengthens the finish enough to move it from medium to a medium-long length. It also becomes much sweeter and richer after adding some water, with a beautiful mixture of molasses and apply syrup coating the tongue and lingering there for quite some time. The more bitter notes of tannins and dark chocolate move to the background a bit, though they’re still there if you choose to look for them.

Verdict:

I often enjoy a Port finished dram of whisky and this GlenDronach Port Wood is no exception. It’s thick, luscious and has plenty of wonderful full flavours on offer. If I were to look for some points against it I would have to point out that it stays quite monotone. There are no “evolving” flavours and I doubt you’ll be surprised the next time you go back to this dram. But on the other hand, when the flavours are this much my cup of tea… I don’t mind that all too much. This is definitely a whisky I’m going to purchase again, specifically for Christmas next year. Because this is a Christmas dessert in a Glencairn, and I love the thought of that!

I bought my bottle for 55 euro and I don’t think it’s the world’s best value at that price, but it is a bottling with all the integrity I look for in a dram and with these flavours I can still justify spending that amount on this bottle of whisky.

Rating:

88/100

Value:

C

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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