Rewind to 2015 and the whisky world was hit with words “GlenDronach are discontinuing the 15yr Revival” (see our review here)
Cue rampaging through the streets, cars being set on fire, statues being pulled down, and grown men & women sobbing like an infant who has dropped their ice cream on the pavement outside school in front of their friends. Sad times. How would we survive?! We were left with the 12yr, 18yr, and 21yr to hold the core-fort whilst the 15yr went on holiday. A new baby Brother, the 8yr ‘The Hielan’, did appear in the meantime – but was not really an exciting replacement and it had mixed reviews…
During this period of absence, surviving bottles of Revival that were still in circulation quickly became a commodity and so sought after that people were willing to pay up to £300 for a bottle. Ridiculous? Well, in my opinion, yes. But it’s their money I guess. The only comforting news that Alistair Walker told me was “…it will return at some point in 2018. This isn’t something we would do lightly, as this is one of our best-selling and most popular whiskies, but we simply don’t have the maturing stocks to continue to bottle and supply the GD 15YO over the next 3 years…” So at least it would return. The countdown clock had started.
Now fast forward 3 years almost to the month, and hey presto, the Prodigal Son returns. With only a few small tweaks to the packaging and wording, its uniform looks almost identical and the distillery/Brown-Forman have been incredibly sympathetic to the original design. But if you look closer, you’ll see some differences. This new Revival is now a vatting of both Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso. The tasting notes are different. Brown-Forman is mentioned (and why shouldn’t they be), and most importantly, the signature of the Master Blender is now Rachel Barrie.
So, does the Revived Re-Loaded Revival cut it? Does it live up to its previous incarnation? It’s not like there was much pressure to get this one right, was there…
GlenDronach 15 Revival – 2018 Version (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Golden Oak, long & lazy legs.
Nose: Sherry and bold maltiness grab you by the nose, followed by a procession of raisins, marmalade, gentle wafts of bread & butter pudding, doughy bread, and more dried raisins. Sitting in the glass a little longer and the maltiness begins to soften, with chocolate, caramel, and a bag of fruit jelly sweets creeping out.
Palate: A gentle tongue-cooling sweetness flows over the tongue and presents a pleasant honey-fizz white pepper prickling. And now this – the real character of the GlenDronach spirit appears with aplomb and stands above the other entities. Its depth of personality is bang-on target and you can really taste that this is a GlenDronach whisky immediately. Unmistakable. Although it’s sherried and sweet, the distillery’s trademark spirit that all the flavours reside in, is very clearly there. Now a slight saltiness appears that wakes the palate. It’s then nudged gently aside by a silky sweet sherry, burnt sugar, cereals, more soft, more creamy honied sweetness, and a well behaved & subtle dryness. Hints of Oak and tobacco start to close the experience, but not before that soft maltiness shows up again and entwines itself with more sherry, some leather, and nutty, dark chocolate.
Finish: Long, with a merry-go-round of flavours. The depth of this new Revival is full-bodied and lightly oily. The gentle but confident balance of sherry is so well integrated with the spirit, it’s difficult not to reach for another glass.
It really is lovely and works for me. Die-hard fans of the original Revival will be very happy and should (hopefully), accept this unconditionally. Fans of the 12yr will adore this as it’s a logical step-up. Fans of the Allardice will embrace this with open arms as the two are very complimentary to one another.
For me, this will now sit next to a couple of other whiskies in the collection as a regular go-to. It’s sherried & fruity enough to stroke the taste buds and deliver a sweet hit, but malty and well behaved enough to lend itself to, quite frankly, gratuitous pouring.