When I got to taste through the GlenDronach line of single malts with the brand's master blender, Rachel Barrie recently, she talked a lot about "the music of whisky." The stills at the GlenDronach distillery are saxophone shaped, she said, and the sax vibe comes through in the finished product. Now, I don't know whether it was the power of suggestion, but a sip of the 12 Year Old had my taste buds "hearing" jaunty, jazzy saxes, thanks to the bright, fruity notes imparted by the sherry casks in which the whisky was matured.
GlenDronach Revival (46% ABV, $90) is aged for 15 years. Like its 12 year old sibling, it's aged in ex-Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. The combination of the sweet, fruity Oloroso and dry, nutty PX gives it amazing balance. It's sweet but not cloying, nutty but not tannic, fruity but not overwhelmingly so. The extra three years in oak give it a deeper, darker vibe, with the fruit notes darkening and the oak up just a tick — think baritone sax instead of alto. But it's still got that musicality, dancing on the tongue, with each flavor flickering to the forefront like a quick, two-bar solo before merging back into the ensemble.
The latest Revival is a revival of Revival, which was discontinued three years ago due to lack of aged stocks. GlenDronach has long been an under-the-radar single malt, though its 2016 acquisition by booze behemoth Brown-Forman (the folks behind a little thing called Jack Daniel's) and subsequent placement in the film Kingsman: The Golden Circle will do a lot to change that. And good for GlenDronach. I'm not usually a drinker of sherried malts, but I can appreciate a good one when I taste it. Revival is one of the few that I'm jonesing to return to. It's a brilliantly constructed, perfectly balanced whisky. And hell, I love a good baritone sax.