Glendronach has been on of the top sherry cask single malt Scotch whiskies in recent years. The bottlings of Glendronach not only serve as ideal representatives of the high-quality Highland style whiskies, but also inspire above all through their outstanding barrel management. Try the Glendronach 12 Years, our price-performance winner!
Like many Scottish distilleries, Glendronach’s name arises from a combination of the Gaelic word ‘Glen’ and the Dronach Burn from which it drawns its water. ‘Dronach’ translates as ‘bramble’ or blackberries, so the name the distillery name translated into ‘Valley of the blackberries’.
Glendronach is a distillery in Scotland in the eastern Highlands, which regularly delights and impresses fans of sherry cask whiskies. The distillery is postcard worthy, located in Aberdeenshire, in the middle of barley fields and featuring the classic Doig pagoda roof. The days when all employees of the distillery, from managers to cleaning staff, together with their families, lived and worked on the premises are now over, but the numerous surviving historic buildings, several of which are listed, testify to this once strong community spirit. None more than former managers residence the Georgian Glen House built in 1771, in which features 12 guest rooms for visitors and which is said to be haunted….
The GlenDronach Distillery has a spacious visitor center with an attached shop. Various tours of the production facilities are offered daily from here, which of course end with the tasting of a few ‘wee drams’.
How does Glendronach Single Malt taste?
Glendronach whiskies are known for their strong sweet Sherry aroma. The whisky is generally very round, have a full body and a lot of christmas cake notes. Other typical tasting notes include malt, orange, tobacco, vanilla and plums.
How is Glendronach whisky produced?
The production of Glendronach single malt is very manual and value is placed on tradition. It’s fair to say the distillery is not one to jump at innovation or new technology. Their Boby Mill, in which the malt is ground, has been in operation for over 100 years, Glendronach still uses traditional wooden wash backs, and the distillery was one of the last to abandon on site maltings in 1996 and their copper stills were still coal fired until 2005.
Glendronach obtains their barley process from surrounding farms usually the Optic and Concerto varieties. The water for the mash and the reduction of the whiskies comes from the Dronac Burn, which flows through the distillery. As a rule the fermentation of whiskey should not be less than 48 hours, Glendronach is far from this lower limit as their fermentation runs between 60 and 90 hours.
Glendronach has four traditional copper stills, two Wash stills and two spirit stills with an annual production capacity of 1.3 million litres. According to Alan McConnochie the Glendronach the shape of their stills creates very a little reflux. Which, among other things, results in a strong, oily spirit.
Glendronach has three traditional ‘Dunnage Warehouses’, but all doors of the warehouses are equipped with a flood barrier to prevent the risk of flooding from ‘The Dronach’. By far more barrels slumber in the ‘Racked Warehouses’ in which the barrels can be stored high on many floors. Under these conditions, excellent, round and complex whiskies are created. With all its whisky, Glendronach dispenses with artificial color additives to preserve its natural flavors and the full character. Since it was taken over by the BenRiach Company the whisky has been matured exclusively in sherry casks. Until 2021 Glendronach also bottled without chill-filtration, an unforunate recent development.
Glendronach sets a high standard in the Scotch whisky scene with its 12-year-old single malt. The Glendronach 12 years matured in a combination of Sherry casks, some that previously contained Pedro Ximenez and others that housed Oloroso Sherry. Thus, it has taken over the best of these sherry varieties and is a a sweet treat with flavors of brown sugar, fine Amarena cherry and abundant spice notes. The price-performance ratio is also true for the Glendronach 12 years.
Even in their more upscale segment, Glendronach works hard to inspire. The Glendronach 18 years of Allardice is probably one of the most intense and spicy Malt whiskies of its age. Full maturation in Oloroso Sherry casks and it shows. Powerful aromas of liquorice, dates and tobacco dominate this malt whisky. The Allardice, as well as its older sibling the 21 Parliament are highly recommened.
The Glendronach distillery was founded by James Allardice (also spelt Allardyce and Allardes) in 1826 and quickly became famous amoung the London aristocracy. Sadly tragedy struck in 1837 and the distillery was all but destroyed by fire but was immediately rebuilt. James Allardice went bankrupt in 1842 and the distillery passed through numerous hands until the 1920s.
Glendronach’s premises and its licenses were purchased in 1852 by Walter Scott, the former distillery manager of the Teaninich. In 1887 it was acquired by a Leith blending partnership who went ino administration in 1916. In 1920 Captain Charles Grant the son of Major William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich acquired the distillery. The Grant family well-maintained and operated Glendronach for decades until it was sold in 1960 to William Teachers & Sons. The distillery’s premises were renovated and two extra stills were installed, and production capacity was doubled up.
Glendronach was acquired by Allied Distillers in 1976 when the latter purchased Teacher’s. In 1991, it was released as two 12-year-old expressions – one aged in ex-Bourbon, one in ex-Sherry – a real innovation for the time, but the brand never received any serious backing. The distillery was then mothballs in 1996.
In 2002 production was resumed, then Allied Distillers was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 2005. In 2005 Glendronach, one of the last coal fire hold outs, was converted to steam heating. Some reports attribute this change to EU legislation though I’ve been unable to confirm the accuracy of this.
Ultimately the brand strategists at Pernod Ricard, however, were of the opinion that Glendronach did not fit into tht Group’s overall strategy. A great luck to the whisky world then followed in the sale of the distillery in 2008 to Benriach Distillery Co. Ltd., led by Bill Walker and his two South African partners.
Walker, who had already revived the Speyside distillery Benriach, set a lot to restore the old glory of Glendronach. He changed the focus of the distillery and transitioned the whisky from Bourbon to emphasis on Sherry casks. The current success and popularity among fans proved this decision right. In 2016, Brown Forman, the American group, acquired the three distilleries Benriach, Glenglassaugh and Glendronach for £285m. Billy Walker continues his work at GlenAllachie in Scotland.
|Name||Pronounced||AKA||Region||Country of Origin|
|Status||Active||Whisky Type||Website||Tours Available|
|Active||1826 - Present||Malt||Glendronach||Tour Link|
|Manager||Distiller||Blender||Owned by||Parent Group|
|Billy Walker||BenRiach Distillery Company|
1826: Founded by the Glendronach Distillery Co. partnership headed by James Allardes, the son of a local landowner (allardyce)
1837: Distillery burnt down due to neglecting of the management of the distillery by Allardes
1842: John Allardes went bankrupt
1852-80: Company acquired by Walter Scott (ex-manager at Teaninich) managing partner (jointly with Alexander Ross c.1860-78)
1887: Taken over by a Leith partnership
1916: Acquired by the Crown
1920: Acquired by Captain Charles Grant, younger son of William Grant of Glenfiddich and remained in that branch of Grant family control until 1960
1960: The distillery was sold by George Grey Grant to William Teacher & Sons Ltd., which doubled the production capacity while preserving the traditional way of production, as old-fashioned floor maltings (much of the barley used is grown locally), Oregon Pine washbacks, a peat-fired drying kiln, and four coal-fired stills. The whisky, bottled as a single malt by the owner, matured at the distillery using sherry casks
1966: Extended from two to four stills, coal-firing. Floor malting. Still licensed to the Glendronach Distillery Co. Ltd.
1976: William Teacher & Sons Ltd. became part of the Allied Breweries group and the distillery is now operated by the Teacher (Distillers) Ltd.
1981: Allied Breweries became Allied Lyons plc.
1994: Allied Lyons becomes Allied Domecq PLC in September 1994
1996: Distillery closed
2002: Distillery reopened to allow for stock adjustments, floor maltings are used for the last time
2004: Owned by Allied Distillers Ltd.
2005: Allied Domecq was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 2005, Coal firing was converted to steam heating due to EU exhaust gas regulations.
2008: Acquired by Benriach Distillery Co. Ltd. led by Bill Walker
2016: Sold to Brown Forman along with Benriach & Glenglassaugh
2021: Glendronach introduces chill filtration
Interesting Glendronach links:
Can I tour Glendronach?
Yes Glendronach distillery is tourable. On Trip Advisor the distillery has been rated as excellent by 140 of 171 tours to date. This gives Glendronach an overall rating of 4.5
Lovely Tasting Experience. by Paul G
We visited Glendronach distillery while staying in the area. Unfortunately no tours were available due to Covid restrictions but tasting flights were available. We had the Classic Core and Chocolate Pairing flights. Four malts with paired chocolates which we thoroughly enjoyed. Special thanks to Sandra for looking after us.
Highlight of the Highlands! by Cory C
My father and I visited in mid February and absolutely loved our experience. It helps that Glendronach is my favorite single malt, but even if that weren't the case, I still would strongly recommend stopping here. We did the "Connoisseur's Tour" which consisted of a detailed tour of the distillation facilities along with stories and history of the distillery, a visit to the barrel house, and a tasting of 6 products in their beautiful tasting room. We were the only ones on the tour, and as expected, the whisky was fantastic, but we were also thoroughly impressed with the quality of the tour and true love that our guide has for their product. We were presented with 12, 15, 18, 21 yr drams, as well as two special releases, a 1993 Master Vintage bottling and a 1994 handfill cask. We could not have been happier and this was most certainly one of the best parts of our visit to Scotland. Don't come to the region without stopping here!
Whiskytrip Scotland by Michel B
Our host Yvonne gave a warm welcome. We had a good tour through the distillery and a very relaxing tasting afterwards. We learnd a lot from her and therfore a big hug from Michel, Eric and Monique 😘