Review. No 15 – Glendronach Revival 15 Year Old (2015 Bottling)

One Aberdonian, a fawning appreciation for Glendronach, and an old bottling of the 15 Revival? Well, you aren’t mistaken for thinking this would be another puff piece – an uninspired, slavish display of adoration for a whisky world cult favourite – and I was a bit troubled that all of my reviews had become overwhelmingly positive, so here I am rueing my decision to buy The Dalmore 18 Year Old instead of 15 bottles of Buckfast.

Meanwhile, what about today’s whisky? There’s little introduction needed here, but should you wish for a distillery history, I wrote one here a short while ago. Briefly though, Glendronach is a Highlands distillery, located near Huntly in Aberdeenshire, and for close to 200 years they have created some of the most popular sherried drams around.

Always well-known, it’s since the turn of the millennium that the distillery has seen an upsurge in popularity, with a 5 year period of it being mothballed (from 1996 to 2002) leading to the bulk of their revamped core range whiskies actually being significantly older than they state. For a more in-depth and detailed explanation, check out this blog. A brief example, though: this Revival 15 was bottled in 2015 and most of the whisky used was casked in 1995. However, as there is still a wee bit of 15 Year Old spirit in there too when casks have been married, they legally have to present it as a 15 Year Old, rather than a 20. That, in a nutshell, is my halfwitted explanation.

Back in 2018, when I younger, stupider, and richer, I paid £120 for this bottle, however, when these were available on the shelf, they were retailing for £50. Now only really obtainable via the secondary market, the average price you can expect to pay has levelled to around £100.

So, what have we got? A mahogany brown whisky bottled at 46% ABV, and as they proudly state on both bottle and tube, this is NCF and NCA.

My usual nosing glass entertains this whisky and I’m not adding any water. Rested for 10 or so minutes as I take awful photos of Elsie and the whisky.

Nose: Well-rounded sherry notes off the bat. Quite musty and nutty. I expected big, robust dark fruit notes but it’s a wee bit dulled. You can detect the sweetness of the oloroso cask influence – more jam-in-a-jar aromas than fresh fruit. As it opens up, there’s that regular Christmassy association of nutmeg, cinnamon, and pudding, plus a hint of oak. It’s a tasty but somewhat pragmatic opening to this dram. 8/10

Palate: Chocolate and coffee are the prominent bedfellows here, uniting to form the best tag team since the Legion of Doom. Sweet and oily on the mouth, there’s hints of marzipan, pecan pie, and the dark fruit notes I expected on the nose instead come to the fore on the palate – raisins and prunes, big and flavoursome. It’s a delight – I hug Elsie, but remain stoic. I don’t want her to see me crying. 9.5/10

Finish: There’s more sweetness and gingery spice which occurs on the back of my tongue and the roof of my mouth. A long finish with dark chocolate, oak, raisins, and ash. One to savour. 9.5/10

Total: 27/30

The kind of dram you love to take your time over after a big meal. I’d probably even replace dessert entirely with a wee pour of this. Probably too expensive to be having a bottle kicking around constantly, I will instead just need to pick my battles with this great whisky.

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