July Whisky of the Month – The GlenDronach 2007 Vintage Whisky Club Fifth Birthday Edition
For our birthday we’ve brought out the big guns for the whisky celebration of a lifetime. Of course, a momentous birthday deserves a momentous whisky and who better than the mighty GlenDronach, the world’s favourite sherry cask connoisseurs to do the honours?
Intent on creating an incredible one-off masterpiece to celebrate our birthday, GlenDronach’s world-renowned Master Blender Dr Rachel Barrie has personally selected and bottled an instant legend for our exclusive enjoyment… introducing The GlenDronach 2007 Vintage Whisky Club Fifth Birthday Edition Single Malt Whisky.
Missed out? For more exceptional malts like this…join the Club!
Country of Origin:
Known as “the sleeping giant”, The GlenDronach is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries and only the second to be granted a license to produce whisky after the Excise Act of 1823. James Allardice, a remarkable and extroverted man who loved a drink and a good time, founded the distillery on the Boynsmill Estate in 1826. It’s believed that illicit distillation had actually been taking place at the estate for years before the excise act was passed, but this was undetected thanks to an ingenious alarm system in the form of a colony of rooks nesting in the trees, which would create a hell of a commotion when disturbed… an excellent warning system for the approach of Customs and Excise agents.
Allardyce’s initial sales trip to Edinburgh is reported to have descended into whisky-fuelled debauchery involving several “ladies of the night”, with him scoring in more ways than one because he sold all of his stock on that trip, and not long after bottles of Guid GlenDronach could be found in every pub along the Royal Mile. Word soon spread about The GlenDronach’s richly sherried malts and the distillery landed an early contract for its malt whisky to be used as a key blending ingredient in Teacher’s Royal Highland Cream Scotch Whisky, a deal that lasted more than a century with Teacher’s eventually buying the distillery in 1960.
Things were going very well, but two key events over the next few years saw ownership of the distillery change hands and Allardice eventually losing his share in The GlenDronach. The first was a fire in February 1837 that practically burned the distillery to the ground. Business suffered after the fire and some of the original partners retired, thereby opening the door for Walter Scott, former clerk and then distillery manager at Teaninich to become a new and equal partner of Allardice. The distillery was repaired, and business continued to flourish until the financial crisis of 1842 left Allardice bankrupt. The remaining partners bought his share and Walter Scott took the reins. The distillery flourished under his stewardship, expanding significantly between 1860 – 1880 and selling more whisky than any other distillery in Scotland during that time.
Walter Scott died in May 1886 and over the next seventy-five years the distillery was owned first by a consortium known as The GlenDronach Distillery Company and then by William Grant’s son Charles before Teacher’s eventually bought the distillery in 1960, a sensible move given The GlenDronach had been supplying malt whisky for Teacher’s blends for the past 130 years! Keen to capitalise on the Scotch boom at the time, Teacher’s expanded the distillery in 1967 with the new ‘concrete block’ still-house and doubled the number of stills from two to four.
A significant event occurred in 1968 with the release of The GlenDronach 8YO, the first time that the distillery was promoted as a stand-alone single malt brand and the distillery’s core range of 12, 15 and 18 year old heavily sherried single malts soon reached iconic status. In the meantime, ownership changes were taking place in the background that would ultimately place the continuity of The GlenDronach at risk. Allied Brewers, who would go on to become Allied Domecq, acquired Teacher’s in 1976 and in 1996 The GlenDronach was mothballed and its floor maltings decommissioned.
Fortunately, the mothballing was short-lived and The GlenDronach reopened on May 14th 2002 after being closed for 6 years. The GlenDronach was closed again for 5 months during 2005, this time in order to convert the stills from coal-fired to steam heating, a conversion deemed necessary under EU Health & Safety rules that no longer allowed coal-fired stills. At the time it was the last distillery in Scotland to operate coal-fired stills. By now Pernod Ricard had purchased Allied Domecq and the new owners began a shift away from sherry casks, filling only bourbon casks in a move that horrified The GlenDronach’s followers!
This madness was short-lived, thankfully, because in 2008 The BenRiach Distillery Co Ltd acquired The GlenDronach from Pernod Ricard. The new ownership brought The GlenDronach under independent ownership for the first time in almost half a century and more importantly, brought it under the stewardship of Billy Walker, one of the most exciting whisky makers of our time.
Billy’s vision was to see The GlenDronach return to its traditional sherry style of single malt whisky. Filling of bourbon casks was immediately ceased and in 2009, much to the delight of malt fans across the world, The GlenDronach “re-released” its iconic core range of 12, 15 and 18 year old 100% sherried single malts, with the 15 Year Old “Revival” of course going on to legendary status.
In 2015, The BenRiach Distillery Company won the Global Whisky Distiller of the Year at the Icons of Whisky Awards, a win that no doubt caught the attention of American giants Brown-Forman, who scooped the company up the following year. This ushered in a new era as these revered distilleries came under the care of another whisky legend, Dr Rachel Barrie, whose incredible work over the past three years has seen The GlenDronach, more than ever, become the serious whisky lover’s “Glen” of choice.
About The GlenDronach Single Malt Whisky:
Widely credited as making some of the world’s finest examples of 100% sherry matured whisky, The GlenDronach is synonymous with big, bold, heavily sherried, old-style malt whisky and is one of only a very small number of Scotch distilleries truly specialising in traditional sherry cask maturation. In the very early days, many distilleries used Spanish sherry casks for maturation, but nowadays these casks are up to 10 times more expensive than American Oak ex-Bourbon casks, hence the ubiquitous bourbon matured malt whisky that we see on the market today and the dwindling number of true sherry cask specialists.
Fortunately for us, stalwarts like The GlenDronach, Glenfarclas, Aberlour and more recently, Tamdhu, continue to put out the dark, raisiny goodness that we love, and this month is no exception! To celebrate our momentous Fifth Birthday, GlenDronach Master Blender Dr Rachel Barrie has hand selected and bottled a very special GlenDronach just for us, and this one’s going straight to the pool room.
Chosen from a run of exceptional sherry casks, all laid down in 2007, our Fifth Birthday Edition is a spectacular and very rare example of a 100% ex-Pedro Ximénez Sherry cask vatting from The GlenDronach. Heavy, beautifully rich, and complex – this is old-school GD at its sherry best with loads of chocolate raisin and hazelnuts, baked nectarine, apple strudel and hints of arabica coffee… all topped with lashings of cherry and plum pie, toasted almonds, dark chocolate and a touch of ginger. Bottled at a perfect 46% ABV, non-chill filtered and natural colour – it’s better than birthday cake!
Everyone who follows The GlenDronach knows their World Exclusive releases are as rare as hen’s teeth and are keenly sought out by collectors – needless to say, this is a must-have for your top shelf. As such, we’d strongly suggest you Double-Up this month, because who wants to have to choose between drinking it, and keeping it for the collection? You’ll be thanking us later!
$130 per bottle + $15 flat fee postage
Age on release:
Matured in ex-Pedro Ximénez sherry casks
The GlenDronach quick facts
Place of origin: Forgue By Huntly, Aberdeenshire, AB5 4DB, Scotland, UK
Water source: Balnoon Burn
Washbacks: 9 x wooden
Number of stills: 2 wash stills and 2 spirit stills
Capacity: 1,400,000 litres per annum
Colour: Autumn gold.
Nose: Sultana, cherry stone and baked nectarine on a base of ground nutmeg, arabica coffee and chocolate hazelnut.
Palate: Chocolate raisin and hazelnut with a crescendo of ripe plum, orange and cranberry jus, and oven-baked apple strudel.
Finish: Lingering layers of cherry and plum pie, topped with toasted almond, and dark chocolate with a hint of ginger.
We’d love to say Birthday Cake, but really, this is perfect with a Wagyu ribeye straight off the grill.