GlenDronach has a pretty loyal following, and for good reason. Their sherry cask matured whisky is a great basis for both their core and cask release batches. Yet the distillery has more to it than just sherry bombs. GlenDronach uses whisky matured in ex bourbon casks with a slew of cask finishes, from virgin oak, through Madeira, Marsala, Sauternes and Port, and ranging in age from 12 to 20, with some expressions making multiple appearances at various ages.
You can come close to a “clean” GlenDronach in bourbon casks with the 8 year old Hielan’ (see here). I say close, because there is some sherry in the vatting there. If you want whisky in purely ex bourbon, you’ll have to get the GlenDronach Peated, an expression I sadly have to caution you to taste before you buy, as it sadly doesn’t quite represent the standards I’ve come to expect from the distillery (see full review here)
This expression was finished in Marsala hogsheads. Marsala is a protected name limited to the western tip of the Island of Sicily, and is a fortified wine like Sherry and Port.
Legend has an English merchant named John Woodhouse as the person who fortified the local wine called Perpetuo and introduced it back in England. I learned more about Marsala wine in this clear infographic, which came complete with an imbedding code, so I’m bringing it here directly from the source:
Original Source: Types of Marsala Wine
With no further ado, we’ll review the GlenDronach Marsala:
GlenDronach 18 Marsala Cask Finish (46% NCF, NC)
Appearance: Bronze, legs running off a sturdy necklace.
Nose: Oranges, floral notes and malt. Berries, canned peaches, and a hint of minerals.
Palate: Orange zest and white pepper, honey, dryness and some bitter notes, but not enough to really be a bitter expression.
Linger: Zesty citrus and pepper, a dry note, spices on the gullet with allspice.
This series, as a whole, shows off what the GlenDronach spirit can do in casks other than sherry.
Tasted at the MMI -Malt Mongers Israel Whisky Club.