GlenDronach 14 y.o. Virgin Oak Review

GlenDronach 14 y.o. Virgin Oak036

46% abv

Score:  87/100


I was fortunate enough to marry the dirty girl, so this little run at the virgin is a rather interesting experience.  I’m not used to such a clean bout of fun anymore.  😉

You gotta give it to GlenDronach.  These guys know how to make their whisky interesting.  I suppose it helps knowing that your distillate is exceptional to start with.  When you have such an inherently clean and malleable base spirit coming off the stills it likely takes a little pressure off your cask policy.  In layman’s terms…their new make spirit is good, so barring disaster, their whisky should always be fairly solid regardless of what sort of cask it goes into. 

This is not to suggest that GlenDronach’s wood policy is anything less than top notch.  Contrarily…the proof is in the pudding with just how many brilliant and unique single cask bottling we see from this Speyside distillery.  Quality is one thing though, and generally enough to keep us coming back again and again, but it’s the spirit of innovation in a whisky such as this 14 year old virgin oak (or its contemporary, the 15 year old tawny port finished release) that gives the distillery a leg up on some of its rivals.

In case you can’t tell…I’m a fan.

This particular ‘Dronach served out the first of its sentence in re-charred puncheons, before moving over to fresh American virgin oak.  The result is a very light and fruity dram.  Rich in soft white bakery notes, vanilla and fruit.  Atypical for this generally quite sherried whisky, but a treat because of it. 

Nose:  Creamy and frothy orange (creamsicle).  Big vanilla smoothness.  Toasted marshmallow.  Little bit of cinnamon.  Creamy toffee.  White chocolate.  Candy-like sweetness.

Palate:  Vanilla and orange rind.  Grains.  Alcohol-soaked white cake.  Like licking the last of vanilla ice cream off of a wooden popsicle stick.  Quite aperitif-ish, really.


Virgin oak, huh?  That purity has never really held a lot of appeal for me.  I’ve always had a thing for the dirty girl, but in this case…I’ll take one for the team and make an exception.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

12 thoughts on “GlenDronach 14 y.o. Virgin Oak Review

  1. Brent

    Was out in Calgary this week and stumbled across one of these at one of the Liquor Depots. I didn’t think this was still residing on shelves and I’ve wanted to try it for a while, so very pleased to find it and now that I’ve re-read the review, I’m kinda excited about it. It’s really tragic you can’t put more than two bottles in your suitcase when flying. Almost worthwhile to bring a second piece of luggage and pay the fee.

    1. David

      I’ve managed to pack 6 bottles (2 were 500 cc but still…) totalling 3950 cc into a carry-on sized suitcase with no losses in flight. I think I got just a little more than that home on a flight from Calgary, but it may have been spread over more than a suitcase.

      1. Brent

        Yeah, it’s not the size/weight of the bottles. It’s the restriction by the airlines. Air Canada/United both state a maximum of two liters of alcohol so when I meant that was the maximum, it was really in relation to their rules. You can definitely fit more under the weight restrictions and protect them well enough.

        Also should note that you aren’t supposed to put cask strength whisky in your luggage, it is prohibited. Learned that flying out of Grande Prairie where they x-ray’d my bag prior to going through security. They recognized the bottle and asked. Staff explained regular booze ok, cask strength bad.

        I actually squeezed a 200 cc Benromach 10 in there as well which made me quite happy. Get more by the rules and I also get to try that. It’s not available locally but they can bring it in on request, so it’s nice to try first in a smaller size.

        Will be back out in Calgary in May so may try for three bottles this time around. It’s a risk for me because it can’t be shipped and I have no family in Calgary to come get it.

        Appreciate your comment David.

        1. David

          Air Canada restricts checked gels, aerosols and liquids to 2L, and Max 500 cc per container but has no limit put on alcohol for checked luggage. The only limit is it can’t be above 70% ABV regardless of volume.

          Cask Strength is fine as long as it’s under 70%.

          Here are the rules:

          However, many CATSA officers make up their own rules. I once tried to take a lip balm out of my gels and liquids bag AFTER clearing security and was told it had to stay in the bag until I reached my destination… which is wrong. I obviously removed it in the boarding lounge away from the security checkpoint but I put in a complaint and the authority confirmed that that “rule” did not exist.

          1. skeptic

            I knew a person once who told me that when someone quotes “policy”, 80% of the time it’s made up (it may be accurate but not because the person checked).

            But then again, 75% of all statistics are made up at the time they are quoted…

          2. Brent

            Jeff, I claimed it was just regular 40%. Mea culpa. Although with what David linked it wasn’t over that limit anyway, so I think “cask strength” was a loose interpretation and I was within the rules anyway.

            David, the way I interpreted the rule is that alcohol is a liquid, ergo subject to the 2L rule indicated. I’m not trying to be pedantic here, I’d pretty much pay an extra baggage fee on a second piece of luggage if I could squeeze 5-6 bottles in there. I know I could try to do so, but if for whatever reason my bag was checked and they limited it to the 2L maximum, I’d be out 3-4 bottles and several hundred dollars. Thoughts?

          3. Jeff

            I think it’s 80% of all statistics are made up at the time they are quoted… but someone once told me it was 60%. Studies show that either has a two-thirds chance of being correct, 19 times out of 20.

  2. Cameron

    I’ve been ignorant to those liquid volume limits for checked bags until now, and regularly stuffed my suitcase with 2-3 bottles on flights back from Calgary. Never had a problem. Let’s hope it stays that way!

    Also, back to the whisky on hand – I just opened my bottle of this and it is really good. Opened it after a club tasting of other virgin oak whiskies including Deanston (ok but forgettable), Auchentoshan (terrible), GlenGarioch (pretty good), KWM Glendronach ’03 (best of the night), and Octomore 7.4 (potent and my 2nd favourite). I think the Glendronachs really benefit from their time in sherry casks before the virgin oak finishing.

    1. David

      I think the 2L posted limits don’t apply to drinking alcohol because the regulations say no container > 500 cc but most whisky and wine is > 500 cc.

      The Deanston you mention may be forgettable on its own but I know a guy who can blend it with Lot 40 Rye and Highwood 90/20 (both of those have age statements, BTW – I don’t recall about the Deanston) to recreate (and some would say improve on) WISER’s Legacy. He’s a master blender…not in the drinks industry right now but I see him as a replacement for Don Livermore in the future…and that would mean cask strength Canadian Whisky!

      1. Brent

        Well I’ll have to give it a go next time I’m out there then (May). I’ll start small – four bottles and see how it goes.


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