Posts

The Glendronach Revival 15 Years Old is Back!

The Glendronach Core Range and Single Cask

Glendronach is a well-known single malt that most of us love. The sherried notes in each of their expressions are a signature to their passion and expertise in their knowledge of using sherry casks; not just any sherry casks though, but excellent and well-made sherry casks.

I was invited to the Glendronach Revival 2018 launch at the Saint Louise House some days ago, and here are some of the highlights.

The Glendronach Revival Event

The Glendronach Revival 2018

As we know, the Glendronach Revival had been one of their most popular expression, and it was met with such an uproar of injustice when the distillery first announced its discontinuation due to stock constraints. Therefore, you probably could imagine the joy of most attendees at the event. The new Revival is still a 15-year-old expression but made slightly differently. While the old Revival aged exclusively in Oloroso casks, the new one aged in a combination of Oloroso and PX Sherry casks. Everyone was excited to try the new Revival to see if it lives up to its name, but there was another distraction – the 1993 single cask bottled for Asia.

The Revival 2018 did not disappoint, but what wowed me was the single cask bottled for Asia. Distilled in 1993, it is a 24-year-old whisky that deserved its reputation. Try it, I’ll say, and you may want to bring a bottle home. The Glendronach Revival is retailing at $299 and the single cask at $1099. You can find them at The Grande Whisky Collection.

Exclusive Chat with Dr Rachel Barrie

Dr Rachel Barrie

Glendronach’s Master Distiller, Dr Rachel Barrie, hosted the event. As you can imagine, it was not every day that we get to meet a Master Distiller of a well-loved distillery. I jumped at the chance of getting an exclusive interview with Rachel when the opportunity presented itself.

We had a good chat about some important things. As a professional, Rachel had worked with many distilleries before she joins Brown Forman as the Master Distiller. Her career is somewhat unique because most master distillers work with only one distillery in their entire career, but Rachel has proved to be different. Working with various distilleries gave Rachel an experience that other master distillers may not get, and that experience has helped her to gain a reputation in the malt whisky industry.

The Greatest Takeaway from Rachel’s Varied Experience

I was curious to know the most significant takeaway from Rachel’s experiences in the various distilleries before joining Glendronach. She told me that Glendronach is an “old-style” traditional distillery, making single malt whisky in the same way for centuries. It is different from some of the more modern distilleries that she had worked with, and the greatest takeaway for her is that in Glendronach, she is not just the Master Distiller; she is the guardian of tradition and the highest quality. She protects the best from the past and ensures that they only use the best and most authentic ingredients to make the world’s most complex single malt.

Gender is Irrelevant in the Industry

Rachel is one of the rare ladies in the whisky industry to hold her position as a master distiller. I asked if gender is an issue in her job. Her robust answer to that was a resounding NO! She said that making malt whisky is a passion. It does not matter whether a man or a woman is doing it. What is important is the teamwork and collaboration that happens inside the distillery. When everyone, both men and women, is committed to what they do best, the team achieves the desired result.

The Challenge of Glendronach

Rachel worked with many distilleries in different roles, but I was curious about her challenges as the master distiller of Glendronach. When I put the question across to her, she paused and then smiled. Rachel’s biggest challenge at Glendronach is the selection of casks. She said that Glendronach has a deep and complex character which changes with the seasons. It also matured differently in the various casks left in different warehouses. The robust and fruity spirit of Glendronach created an abundance of intriguing layers when she left them in different casks. Therefore, her challenge at Glendronach is the selection of casks as each one is different from the other. In her words, Rachel said, “The challenge is the opportunity”.

A Day in the Life of a Master Distiller

All of us are interested to know the life of a Master Distiller, so I asked Rachel what her day looks like. She said that there is no typical day because she works on different things each day. She works with all three distilleries under Brown Forman – Glendronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh, but she spends most of her time with Glendronach.

Rachel revealed that she spent most of her mornings nosing cask samples to make decisions for vatting of casks. Her day varies between selecting casks for individual bottling, writing tasting notes, and composing the next vatting of the Glendronach core range. She also needs to give her attention to new expressions as well as deciding on the cask fillings.

Some Advice for the Women in the Whisky Industry?

I also asked Rachel for her advice to women who hope to work in the whisky industry – regardless of role. Her reply does give hopes to many, I believe. She said, “Work hard and stay focused on the serious job of making whisky. Learn something new every day, stay curious, be courageous and seize every opportunity to be creative. If you keep trying, stay focused and have a positive attitude, opportunities will come your way.”

So, if you hope to be a master distiller one day – continue to work hard and learn! You never know!

 

Like what you have just read?

    Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!




    [mc4wp_checkbox]

    Event: Private Tasting of Glendronach/BenRiach by Brown Forman

    Glendronach and BenRiach distilleries are no strangers to our shores, considering the vast number of fans for the Glendronach single casks releases. We attended a private tasting session at La Maison du Whisky on 23 March 2018, hosted by none other than Stewart Buchanan, the global brand ambassador of Glendronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh. Alongside Stewart were a few other vital people of the brands. We had the pleasure to meet Finbar Boyle, the General Manager of Southeast Asia, Vincent Pantow, the Area Manager in South East Asia as well as Shirley Sum, the Trade Marketing Manager of Travel Retail, APAC.

    Geek Choc and I were the first to arrive for the event, and we were soon seated and served with water while we waited for the rest to show up. As LMDW scheduled the event at 6 pm, it was natural for some participants to be slightly late due to work. Anyway, the rest of the gang soon turned up, and Stewart wasted no time and started the event promptly.

    The Event Proper

    The initial tasting planned was to try five different whiskies. Three of the Glendronach’s core range – 12, 18 and 21, followed by two higher-end BenRiach – 30 and 35. The 30 Years Old was a peated whisky. Stewart, however, decided to add in a BenRiach 10, because he felt that it was essential for us to know how a “normal” BenRiach tastes like. We thought it was considerate of him, especially when some of the audiences have not tried a BenRiach before.

    Glendronach

    Glendronach distillery is one of the few fortunate distilleries that avoided a closure back in the 1900s. As a result, the distillery’s use of sherry casks did not stop, and today, it is one of the most sought-after sherry bombs in the industry. As many of Glendronach’s fans would say, “Nothing seems bad when you are sipping a Glendronach!”

    For the geeky us, we were excited when Stewart started speaking of production! We understood from Stewart that the reason the Glendronach is rich and viscous is due to the way they run their production. The time that Glendronach seeps their barley, the hours of fermentation and even the way the casks are used all played a part to create the end product. Nonetheless, in Glendronach, casks are but a supplement to the rich spirit that they produce.

    Glendronach 12 Years Old

    Stewart started with the Glendronach 12 Years Old. A young whisky by the standard of what’s on offer, the 12 Years Old does not disappoint. With 80% oloroso casks and 20% PX casks, the 12 Years Old boasts of caramel, spice and barley sweetness. The long finish is a bonus too.

    Glendronach 18 Years Old Allardice

    The Glendronach 18 Years Old Allardice was up next. The word ‘Allardice’ simply referred to the founder James Allardice. The 18 Years Old is made of 100% oloroso casks which make the whisky drier and spicier. The nose also holds some leathery notes while the long finish is tannic and astringent.

    Glendronach 21 Years Old Parliament

    Moving on, we came to the Glendronach 21 Years Old Parliament. Now, the name Parliament has a special story behind it. It has nothing to do with the government or politics. It actually means a flock of crows! A group of crows is called a parliament. Why is there a reference to crows? According to Stewart, the men operating on the illicit stills of the past depended on the ravens to alert them of excisemen in the area. As they hid deep inside the forest, any disturbance by the excisemen would cause the crows to make noise. That became a signal to the illicit stills operators!

    The Glendronach 21 Years Old is again, made up of 80% oloroso casks and 20% PX casks. The prolonged maturation allows the PX-influence to shine, making this expression sweeter and yet, rich and robust. The long finish is a balance of caramel sweetness and tannic dryness.

    BenRiach

    Stewart moved on to BenRiach soon enough. BenRiach sat 600 miles from Longmorn and was mothballed in 2002. Fortunately, Billy Walker bought the distillery and reopened it in 2004. Since then, the distillery has been growing rapidly and moving from glory to glory. Today, BenRiach has some of the richest Speyside spirits and excellent peated ranges that are highly sought-after.

    BenRiach also used water with more minerals, which produces more esters during long fermentation. As a result, BenRiach is very fruity even at a young age. Interestingly, BenRiach also has one of the most extended middle cut in their spirit bank, which makes for a fascinating distillery tour as you get to taste the different new make at different cuts.

    BenRiach 10 Years Old

    The BenRiach 10 Years Old uses a combination of bourbon, virgin oak and sherry casks. Boasting notes of honey, butterscotch, vanilla, grapefruits and zesty citrus, it is perfect as a dessert whisky. The long finish helps to keep the fruitiness in the palate long after you swallow it. This is one whisky that is ideal as an introduction to a non-whisky drinker too!

    BenRiach 30 Years Old Authenticus (Peated)

    The BenRiach 30 Years Old Authenticus is a unique peated expression. Peated at 55 ppm, it is considered a heavily peated whisky. Now, a highland peated whisky is different from an Islay whisky, mainly because of the peat that was used. Highland peat does not produce the iodine element that you usually associated with Islay peat, making it less pungent and more fragrant. This expression is a combination of American and sherry hogsheads.

    The 30 Years old boast some spice notes before a breathe of smoky peat comes thru beautifully. Sweetness than comes in before turning into dry, herbaceous notes. The finish is long and dry.

    BenRiach 35 Years Old

    The BenRiach 35 Years old is a sherried expression. Unlike whiskies using first-filled sherry butts, this expression used a refill sherry hogshead. Stewart shared that sherry hogsheads are hard to come by, and are usually heavily-used. Hence, the BenRiach 35 Years Old likely used one which has been reused several times before.

    That probably explains the unusual notes that we get. The 35 years old is both sweet and grassy with medium spice that dissipates quickly. A yummlicious whisky for sure, and one that may confuse you just a little!

    Event Ending

    The event ended fairly quickly after that and Stewart did a round of autographs before bidding all of us good-bye. It was a great insight into Glendronach and BenRiach, and we look forward to more tasting sessions in the future!

     

    Like what you have just read?

      Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!




      [mc4wp_checkbox]