The GlenDronach distillery lies at the Dronach Burn in the Deveron area. The whisky distillery was founded in 1826, by a syndicate headed by James Allardes. Thanks to the fifth Duke of Gordon, distillation throughout the highlands was legalized in the early 19th century. It is said the duke encouraged the group to build GlenDronach. The distillery changed hands in 1852, to Walter Scott of Teaninich. Following his death, a group from Leith acquired the distillery.
It was in 1920 that William Grant’s son Charles Grant purchased GlenDronach for £9,000. A few months later production began once more, the distillery having been silent for some time. During the 1960s, William Teacher and Sons acquired the distillery and subsequently installed two new stills. In 1976, Allied took over and in 1996 they mothballed the distillery. Production began again in 2002 and three years later, following the acquisition of Allied, Chivas Brothers became the new owner.
In 2005, the distillery was closed for a few months to allow for conversion from coal to steam to heat the stills. This change may well effect the character of the single malt whisky. When fire from coal directly heats the stills, the distribution of heat is somewhat uneven, creating hotspots. These hotspots proffer a richer, toffee-like Scotch whisky. Steam indirectly heats the stills, providing even distribution, without the caramel and toffee overtones. Long since associated with Teachers, GlenDronach’s whisky has been used in the blends since the late 1800s. Following the Chivas Brothers acquisition, it has been a constituent of Chivas Regal. The GlenDronach distillery was purchased by BenRiach’s owners in 2008 for £15 million.
In 2009, the new owners announced a total investment of £7 million in the GlenDronach distillery. In the same year, the whole old core range of 12 year old, 15 year old and 18 year old whiskies was relaunched, while a new visitors centre was also opened in 2010. A peated expression was introduced in 2015, showcasing GlenDronach’s innovative streak.
However, in 2016 GlenDronach was purchased by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey producer Brown-Forman along with its acquisition of the rest of the BenRiach Distillery Company, for the price of £285 million.
The GlenDronach distillery uses six warehouses, three traditional dunnage which are no more than three barrels high, and three racked. GlenDronach produces around 1.4 million litres of whisky per annum, which compared to some Scotch distilleries is fairly small game, although this is by no means a downfall of the distillery.
The GlenDronach 12 Year Old, is allowed to age in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks from Spain, resulting in generous helpings of dried fruit and Christmas spice running through it. Bottled without chill-filtration or additional colouring.
Nose: Rich cereals, struck match, raisin, cinnamon, caramelised sugar. Opens with some sweeter PX and lots of delicious raw ginger before becoming creamier with hazelnuts.
Palate: Fruits, peels, buttery. Pain au chocolat, a little marmalade on toast before becoming firmer and nuttier with spiced raisins.
Finish: Smoky toffee and nut brittle.