Glendronach

Glendronach is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. It is best known for maturing its spirit in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. In 2018 the distillery was bought by American whiskey distiller Brown Forman.

Glendronach distillery's brown brick buildings viewed from its green front yard
Glendronach distillery

style

Glendronach is a robust single malt Scotch whisky from a highland distillery. It is often aged in casks that previously held Oloroso sherry. This fortified wine gives the whisky a sweet dried fruits character with notes of raisins and sultanas along with toffee and walnut.

Glass of sherry
Barley grains
Spiral of orange peel
Vanilla pods with flower head of vanilla plant

production

Glendronach has four pot stills. Each one is fitted with a boil ball which helps to create reflux in the distillation process. When spirit vapours rise, the ball will encourage them to condense and drop back into the pot to be distilled again. Normally this creates a lighter spirit but in contrary fashion, the stills also feature downward facing lyne arms.

A lyne arm is a pipe that carries spirit vapour from the still to a condenser where it is cooled back into liquid form. A steep incline on the pipe will make it harder for heavier compounds to come across. A downward slope will have the opposite effect. This unusual set-up combines to create a heavy bodied spirit that can easily take on the bold flavours of an ex-sherry cask.

Most Glendronach is bottled at 46% abv. This higher strength stops the whisky from going cloudy in the bottle.


history

Glendronach was founded in 1826 by a group of farmers led by James Allardice. Allardice was something of a character and his charm worked wonders for the business. Within a few years of the distillery opening, his Glendronach Highland single malt Scotch whisky was on sale in countless bars across the city of London. Sadly however his success wasn’t to last. A devastating fire at Glendronach in 1837 left Allardice bankrupt and the future of the distillery uncertain.

In 1852 a man named Walter Scott saw potential in the Glendronach Scotch and rebuilt the distillery. It stayed in his family until 1887 when it was acquired by John Somerville & Co who remained at the helm until the First World War brought production to a halt.

After the war Glendronach was taken over by Captain Charles Grant, youngest son of Glenfiddich founder William. The Grant family later sold to William Teacher & Sons Ltd who expanded capacity in 1960.

By the mid-90s Glendronach was in the hands of Allied Distillers who deemed it surplus to requirements and shut it down. It remained silent for six years before being re-opened by Pernod Ricard.

Glendronach's employee leaning against a cart carrying three red-lid casks in front of Glendronach's warehouse made of stone
Glendronach warehouse

In 2008 Glendronach was purchased by the Benriach Distillery Co. A new range of single malts was released and the whisky grew in popularity. It has since become common knowledge that much of the whisky bottled at that time contained spirit far older than the label declared. This was thanks to the lengthy closure between 1996 and 2002. For example, a 2015 bottling of their 15 year old "Revival" expression could not possibly be 15 years old, as nothing was produced in 2000. It must therefore have been significantly older.

Glendronach distillery was taken over once again in 2018, this time by American whiskey corporation Brown Forman. The deal worth £281 million also included Benriach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. After the takeover, master blender Dr Rachel Barrie was brought in to ensure the quality of the whisky would remain at the highest standard.

Despite the change in management, Glendronach whisky is as popular as ever and remains one of the best examples of a sherry cask matured single malt.