GlenDronach 12 y.o. Review

GlenDronach 12 y.o.

43% abv

Score:  84/100


Re-tasted and Re-evaluated.

Try as I might, I can not love this whisky.  I first reviewed it a couple of years back, and after having dipped my beak into the fantastic 15 year and other older variants, I began to second guess my earlier appraisal of this 12 year old.  I went at it completely independently of my previous marks and scores.  Interestingly enough, with absolutely no idea as to how I had initially broken down my scoring, I differentiated in only one place (the nose), and by a mere half point.

In an attempt to allow this bad boy to sparkle a bit, I threw together a bit of an informal horizontal tasting.  Four 12 year old sherried malts from the Highlands/Speyside regions went head to head.  The results were…unspectacular.  All good.  None exceptional.  Though I figured this may come out on top…it actually ranked in the bottom.  Sorry…ain’t gonna tell what the others were.

GlenDronach is a Highland Distillery of some esteem, and rightfully so.  Founded in 1826, they have been producing fine whisky for just shy of 200 years.  In recent times (2008) GlenDronach has been taken over by BenRiach.  The tradition of crafting bold sherried scotch whisky has not flagged in the least.

And while this is bold, it’s by no means beastly. 

Nose:  There seems to be a slight imbalance here, in that the barley is still singing over all else.  I would hope for a little more restraint on those cereal notes by 12 years.  It’s not unpleasant, just…not quite there yet.  Rum-soaked fruitcake notes (the usual spiel with sherries malts…figs and raisin, etc), some orange, chocolate dustings and pencil shavings.  Some toasted marshmallow creaminess too.  Though not bad, it sounds more pleasant than it is, if I’m to be honest.

Palate:  Barley, sherry (grape/wine) and sweet citrus are primary flavours on the palate as well, dipping and dodging the oak notes.  The arrival is firm, if unexceptional, before it moves on into drier fruits and a lingering oak whimper at the end.

If not for a bit too much cereal roughness (which is long ironed out by the 15 year expression) this would score higher.

Enjoyable, but a little disappointing.

Now…let’s go back to the beginning, in referencing the 15 (and other releases as well).  Though I can’t say the 12 y.o. does much for me, everything from the 15 year mark and on is really, really worthwhile.  GlenDronach, along with sister distillery Benriach, has some of the greatest old stores around.  Hit up some of those exceptional single casks if you can.  Those from the ’70s, in particular.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

4 thoughts on “GlenDronach 12 y.o. Review

  1. portwood

    Any idea what the bottling date was for the 12 you reviewed (code is printed near the bottom of the bottle)?

    Up to about 2009 the juice in the bottle was most likely just 12 years of age. Since then the juice is most likely older than 12 since the distillery was mothballed between 1996 and 2002.
    I’m wondering if the latest bottles (i.e. 2012 or 2013) with older juice (at least 15 years old) are better than the reviews of older bottlings?


    1. Robert

      The 12 is good and worth the money, especially since mine was a Christmas gift. The 15 is very good and I’d love to find another or two for fall/winter. Don’t know anything about the others , but Serge at Whiskyfun recently reviewed some and loved them.

  2. selfbuilt

    May be worth re-reviewing this one, to see if it has changed. Based on the online commentaries of its true age, it’s possible that new make is finally finding its way into the vattings for these now.
    I have a bottle from last year that has a date code that keeps it within the old make window. Agree it is potent and firm, and not likely to be everyone’s cup of tea. But it does have a lot of complexity to it (consistent with its older nature). A somewhat bold base spirit, I would guess.

  3. Brent

    Dredging this one up as I’ve come across a rumor of late that Glendronach is now planning on discontinuing the 12 y/o. How valid is the rumor? I dunno, gimme your definition of fake news and I’ll play along.

    What I did find interesting is that BenRiach has indeed cancelled the 12 y/o sherry cask and seemingly replaced it with nothing. Given BenRiach and Glendronach are sister distilleries under Brown-Forman I’m giving this more than just a passing notion at truth. If so I’ll be disappointed. I try to buy better/older whiskies where I can but I do like to keep things like a general 12 y/o around and I enjoyed both the BenRiach and Glendronach offerings even though neither would be rated as particularly stellar.

    So 15 y/o revival discontinued (albeit suggested as temporarily but I can’t imagine it will be the same product coming back), 12 y/o Original rumoured to be discontinued now. I’ve seen the same said about Allardice but have seen bottles with the 2018 date stamp so not just yet anyway. But I’ve heard rumors about a pending price increase on that one similar to the jump that happened with Highland Park 18 last year was it? What does the future hold for Glendronach under Brown-Forman?


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