Glendronach Distillery

Forge, Huntly

History - The Glendronach Distillery Company was founded in 1826 by a group of local farmers and headed by businesman James Allardice who built the distillery, which is located in the valley of Forgue, deep in the East Highland hills. It is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland and has been famous for creating Sherried single malts for nearly 200 years. Allardice was a relentless salesman after establishing Glendronach’s whisky in Edinburgh, by giving out drams to ‘ladies of the night’ in the Cannongate area of the city, soon every pub along the Royal Mile had a bottle of Glendronach on its shelves. As with most of Scotland’s old distilleries fire was not the distilleries friend. In 1837 a fire destroyed the place and five years later Allardice went bankrupt. Over the next 150 years the distillery changed hands several times before in 1960 William Teacher & Sons took control and expanded the number of stills from two to four. They also saw Glendronach’s malt as a great malt to use in their blended Scotch, Teacher’s. Two years ago it was bought by American spirit company Brown-Forman as part of a deal which included The BenRiach Distillery.

The Whisky – Glendronach has always had a reputation for being known as a “Sherry monster” the term given by whisky geeks to a dram that has been heavily influenced by Sherry casks when ma-turing. However its previous owners may have used more Bourbon casks slightly changing the whiskies house style but with its new owners they have promised to keep Sherry casks maturation (in particular Oloroso Sherry casks) as their main flavour profile.

Favourite Dram - They have a great range but in particular i love their 18yr old Allardice Sherry Cask bottling. This whisky has been 100% matured in oloroso sherry casks giving it bags of deep flavours and aromas such as dark chocolate, cherry and candied orange.

Why Visit? – It’s a beautiful part of the country here, so is worth a visit regardless if you are inter-ested in Scotch. You can visit Huntly castle or even pop into Knockdhu Distillery for a couple more drams while you are here. They offer a range of tours here and i would advise phoning ahead to book your space to avoid disappointment. The basic tour is their Discovery Tour which takes you through the history and process of creating their award-winning single malt, seeing first-hand the traditional methods that have been in use for nearly 200 years. This tour costs £5 and will even give you a dram in a bottle to take home if you are driving.

Interesting fact – Oloroso sherry has its origins in the south west of Spain in Jerez. It is a fortified wine that is aged in oak barrels for up to 30 years and beyond. These barrels are then used by the scotch industry to aged the whisky. They are more expensive than the Bourbon barrels used in Scotch maturation but they give it a much darker colour and add a deeper and nuttier flavour pro-file to the whisky. You will often see Scotch that has been predominately aged in Bourbon casks then moved to Sherry casks for a time to give it a final flourish of flavour.

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