Review No. 6 – GlenDronach 21 Year Old Parliament

I have previously mentioned my somewhat tragic levels of fanboy appreciation for GlenDronach and their sherry bomb whiskies, in particular their core range, so the 21 Year Old Parliament was never going to sit on my shelf for very long – 3 weeks if you are wondering – before being opened.

Most would relate the term Parliament with the House of Lords and sovereignty, however the name actually refers to the collective term for a group of rooks which inhabit the trees nestled in and around the GlenDronach Distillery. As the story goes, the rooks were welcome allies whenever unexpected visitors turned up. This was a particular problem during the 18th and 19th centuries when the Crown’s Excise officers would make regular forays to the glens and lochs of Scotland in the search of illicit stills, quantities of whisky, and the dreaded government taxes.

Founded in 1826 by James Allardice, GlenDronach is nestled amongst the lush green fields of Aberdeenshire, with the closest town being Huntly, and takes its name from the Dronac Burn that supplies the clear spring water which flows through the distillery.

Famed and vaunted in the whisky world for their rich sherried malts, the distillery is also known for the period when it was mothballed from 1996 to 2001, and then bought over by a consortium which included Billy Walker (of BenRiach and, more recently, Glenallachie). In a nod to the Teachers’ whisky which was made on site in the 60s, Walker wanted to revive the popular Age Statements and have them as a core range, and so ended up using the stocks which had sat maturing for up to 6 years – this means for the 12 Year Old Original, the 15 Revival, the 18 Allardice, and the 21 Parliament, that they can be up to 6 years older than actually stated. Here’s a far better explanation than I can muster, and the trusty infographic to assist.

So, as an example, that would mean the 21 Parliament I have, which was bottled in 2017, is actually 22 Years Old, but would this be noticeable when opened…? Let’s find out.

In true GlenDronach style, they have matured the whisky in the finest Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez dessert sherry casks, which gives it a beautiful colour – a rich maple syrup. The whisky coats the Glencairn when shoogled, and slowly makes its way back in to the dram when rested. I have then left it for about 10 minutes or so to settle. I’ve also set aside tepid spring water too, just in case, and then Elsie join the photoshoot, because who doesn’t like dogs…?

Nose: It’s warm and embracing, slightly reminiscent of Christmas with it’s pudding-like aroma – there’s plenty of raisins and sultanas, sherry and oak. There’s also a nutty undertone, but it remains almost hidden by the other strong whiffs emanating up from the glass. 9/10

Palate: Chocolate that’s rich and dark is what comes to mind first, with the whisky having a slightly syrupy mouthfeel to it. There’s also the fruitiness that’s akin to a Christmas pudding, rich and full-bodied. It’s well-balanced, and the ABV complements the dram very well without being too sulphurous. 7.5/10

Finish: It’s a long and wonderfully warming finish. A wee bit spicy, and some cinnamon can be tasted when I breathe in, but the spiciness fades and leaves the rich fruitiness of the sherry. 8/10

With Water: I added a dash of the water to open the dram up, and to see if it unearthed any other flavour profiles that were hidden under the rich notes. If anything, it seems to change the richness of the red fruit to a light, and more accessible, blackcurrant taste. The dark chocolate becomes a bit more reserved though. It certainly handles the water well, but I am not sure the whisky needs it.

Total: 24.5/30

It’s a strong performer, and a whisky that stands alongside the myriad of positive reviews. I am actually hard pressed to suggest any bad points I found when tasting it – the worst I can come up with is that the Palate, when compared to the Nose and Finish, is found lacking, but it’s a small detail and is the only real negative I can come up with.

It looks like my GlenDronach love-affair continues unabated…

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