So, first a bit of background on the weirdness that is a Virgin Oak cask.
Initially, I, and lots of others with me, figured that a virgin oak cask means that a cask hasn’t been used before. Like every cask in the American bourbon industry, more or less.
However, when I was at Tomatin in November, the tour guide told us that in Scotland a virgin oak cask means that a cask hasn’t been used after charring (or toasting). That means that sherry or bourbon casks can become virgin oak casks after being rejuvenated.
It does explain why some virgin oak casks taste like sherry casks and others like bourbon casks. Even apart from being made from either European or American oak.
This GlenDronach then. According to my information, this was selected by whisky club ”t Woest Genoegen’ for the Dutch market. GlenDronach has been quite popular for a long time in The Netherlands, but it seems to be a bit waning at the moment. Maybe it didn’t help that practically every club, festival and shop had their own casks bottled at some point during the last couple of years.
Our own Usquebaugh Society played its part too, since we’ve also had a virgin oak cask bottled, albeit slightly earlier.
Anyway, upon tasting this I thought it was a sherry cask, but that might have been the oak and spirit combining to show some similar flavors. Here it goes!
Lots of fruity sherry (little did I know!) without being cloying or heavy. Lots of spicy wood scents, maybe even a bit of wine? Oloroso like, since there’s some acidity to it as well. The acidity and salt combination of some Olorosos is here.
The palate is dry but also shows juicy fruit with quite a lot of oak. Peach, plum, apricot. It becomes a bit sharper after a few seconds when the spices set in. Lots of oak and baking spices, and a hint of pepper. Slightly beefy towards the end, with some fatty flavors too.
The finish goes back to those wood/fruit sherry flavors, but it’s not too much. Lots of oak, but again, not too much. Long, fruity, spicy with a good balance. Baking spices and dried fruit.
In my book, this all reads like a sherry cask matured whisky, instead of a youngish virgin oak. Interesting how these casks all differ so much! In a good way, obviously.
I’m thoroughly loving this dram. There’s a lot of great flavors and the balance is surprisingly good for a single cask. No flavor trumps the other, but all aspects of the spectrum are lit. There’s fruit, spices, wood, some beefy flavors towards the end. A ridiculously good dram, I think.
GlenDronach 12 years old, 14/01/2003 – 03/2015, virgin oak hogshead 1749, 54.7%