GlenDronach 18 y.o. Marsala Cask Finish Review

GlenDronach 18 y.o. Marsala Cask Finish275

46% abv

Score:  85/100


GlenDronach in all its incarnations is a personal favorite brand of mine.  They always keep it exciting and their adherence to a top notch wood policy keeps me loyal and spending money.  I’ve found a few oddball single casks that weren’t quite firing on all cylinders (for me, at least), but they were unquestionably the exception, not the rule.  Day in, day out the team at GlenDronach puts out great whisky.

While the distillery’s output is typically rather heavily sherried, here we have an 18 year old malt that spent its twilight days in Marsala wine casks.  I’m not certain as to the length of finishing period, but the impact is huge.  The whisky itself is a shimmering gold/orange/pink colour in the bottle (the likes of which I’ve only ever seen in one or two other malts) and the drink itself is syrupy, bold and fruity.  It’s exactly what should be expected: mature and elegant Highland whisky with a big burst of mouthwatering – then subsequently drying – wine fruitiness.

And does it work?  Yes.  But it’s a close one.  The wine is a little too big, to be honest, but like a spinning top or a Weeble, its off kilter quirkiness is enough to keep me engaged, as opposed to turning away.  I like this one.  More for the nose than the palate, but nevertheless I do like it.

Nose:  Big fruity, wine-y nose.  Spicy, rich wood notes. Orange zest (and juice!) and maraschino.  Some custard and vanilla.  Banana peel.  A slight nuttiness.  Ginger, mild cinnamon and a dash of pepper.  A faint floral soap breeze blows across the top of it all.  All in all…rather delicate and rather appealing.

Palate:  All the wine promised on the nose makes an appearance here.  Brace for it.  A moment or two in it puckers the back edges of the tongue.  Lots of syrupy fruit.  Now ginger again and truckloads of spice.  Wet oak.  Like cognac over poached fruit.  Walnut and almond.  Leaves behind fruits skins at the back end.  A little heavy on the wine, but not so top heavy that it falls over.

Thoughts:  Not too harmonious, really, but there is something that works about it all nevertheless.  I really, really like the nose, and sorta kinda like the palate.

* Thanks to our mate, J Wheelock, for bringing this one by not too long ago and generously pouring for a crowd of unsavoury sorts.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

1 thought on “GlenDronach 18 y.o. Marsala Cask Finish Review

  1. Brent

    A most timely review of this one, so thanks for that. I stumbled across it at our local MLCC earlier today. I’m an avowed fan of Glendronach. Sadly our price is $164 before the government takes its share. I’ll grant you it’s an 18 year old whisky and not entirely out of line with the pricing of other 18 year old whiskies here in Manitoba but it’s still a pricey dram by my standards.

    While it sounds enticing from the review, it doesn’t sound nearly $187 enticing. That’s nearly 3 bottles of the regular 12 year old or 2 bottles of the Revival and I’d certainly rather have two of the Revival for that cost. Quality and quantity over relative novelty that the Marsala finish brings. Should it reach clearance or still be around when I hit Alberta next spring, I might give it a shot.


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