Whisky Review: GlenDronach Revival 15 Year

In the world of scotch whisky, I’ve only scratched the surface of what those islands have to offer. I’ve found a few heavily peated spirits that I really enjoy, but there’s a wide variety out there I haven’t yet explored. And after hearing a friend rave about GlenDronach, I took that as a sign to grab a bottle and start toasting to my scotch education.



The GlenDronach distillery has a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1826. Located in the picturesque Speyside region of Scotland, GlenDronach is nestled in the valley of Forgue, near the town of Huntly. Its name, “GlenDronach”, translates to “valley of the brambles” in Gaelic — a nod to the distillery’s scenic surroundings.

Originally founded by James Allardice, GlenDronach quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality Scotch whisky. Allardice was known for his innovative approach to whisky making, emphasizing the importance of sherry cask maturation. This distinctive style would become one of GlenDronach’s defining characteristics.

GlenDronach distillery faced various challenges throughout its early history. During both world wars, resources were scarce and production was significantly affected. Additionally, changes in ownership and the economic downturn in the late 19th century also posed challenges for the distillery. In 1960, GlenDronach was purchased by William Teacher & Sons Ltd, which eventually became part of Allied Distillers. During this time, the distillery continued to produce whisky using traditional methods, including malting its own barley. The rich and full-bodied nature of GlenDronach whiskies, resulting from the use of sherry casks, remained a distinguishing feature.

GlenDronach distillery closed temporarily in the early 1990s due to economic challenges and a decrease in demand across the whisky industry. It was able to reopen under Allied Distillers in 2002, marking a revitalization that has since led to continued success.

In 2008, the BenRiach Distillery Company acquired GlenDronach, marking a new chapter for the distillery. Under the new ownership, GlenDronach shifted focus and expanded its range of expressions and showcased the depth and complexity of its whiskies. The distillery changed hands one final time in 2016 with an acquisition by the Brown-Forman Corporation, a US based spirits conglomerate. Today, GlenDronach is celebrated for its exceptional single malts, including a core range of expressions ranging from 12 to 21 years old, as well as limited editions and special cask finishes.


The GlenDronach distillery upholds a tradition of handcrafted techniques and devotion to the art of whisky making. The process begins with the use of natural ingredients, including the Highland water sourced from underwater springs in the Balnoon hills and locally sourced malted barley (the distillery no longer malts their own barley but instead purchases it already malted).

While the barley may be pre-malted, it still needs to be milled and ground into smaller chunks. Most distilleries have someone else do this step, but GlenDronach does still mill their own grains in their Porteus brand malt mill from the early 1900’s. From there, the grains are cooked in a copper mash tun and then fermented in traditional wooden vats made from Scottish Larchwood.

After fermentation, we now have a mildly alcoholic liquid which is then distilled twice in batches through the distillery’s copper pot stills. This process selectively captures the desired components from the liquid to get the flavor profile just right, and concentrates the alcohol within the liquid — a process which is assisted by the large and uniquely saxophone-shaped copper stills. Once distilled, the spirit is then filled into Spanish oak casks and placed in their dunnage warehouses to mature.

Central to GlenDronach’s craftsmanship is the marriage of their robust Highland spirit with the finest Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks imported from Andalucia, Spain. This combination imparts exceptional depth, complexity, and character to their whiskies. The selection and care of the Spanish oak sherry casks are paramount, as nearly 70% of the whisky’s flavor is derived from the maturation process.

Throughout the lengthy maturation period, the dedicated distillery team carefully oversees the Single Malt whiskies, ensuring their optimal development. While this particular bottle was aged for 15 years, there are some offerings that are aged for 31 years! Finally, the master blender, Rachel Barrie, expertly selects and marries the whiskies, ensuring that each expression embodies exceptional depth, complexity, and character.


The bottle is crafted with a clear glass that allows the rich color of the whisky to shine through. The shape of the bottle might be entirely unchanged since the late 1800’s — it resembles nearly every other Scotch whiskey bottle (tall, short necked, with a slightly bulbous goiter to help you grip when you pour).

The GlenDronach 15-year bottle features a label that goes beyond minimalism, offering a wealth of information about the whisky (for example, insights about the whisky’s age and other key details). While it may not have the sleek and minimalist aesthetic of some modern designs, the label’s focus on information aims to provide whisky enthusiasts with a comprehensive understanding of the whisky’s characteristics, production, and age — embracing traditional Scotch whisky labeling.

All of this comes in a sturdy cardboard tube, providing additional protection and adding a touch of elegance to the packaging. The distillery uses varied colors to differentiate across their lines of spirits while the rest of the the packaging remains consistent; in the case of this 15-year bottle, the color palette predominantly features green tones.



On the nose, you’ll encounter a gentle sweetness and a subtle hint of alcohol, accompanied by notes of brown sugar, molasses, coffee, cherry, orange, and walnut. Quite the lineup! While I usually prefer a peat bomb, I must admit that this whiskey holds its own without that note.

Taking that first sip, I’m greeted by a complex and delightful symphony of flavors. The dominant taste is coffee, partnered with the richness of dark chocolate, creating a truly luxurious combination. A mild honey adds a pleasant sweetness that plays in harmony with the overall profile, and a light touch of peat sneaks in, subtly enhancing the ensemble without stealing the show.

This whiskey strikes a fine balance and showcases a sophisticated flavor profile. The interplay between coffee, dark chocolate, and honey delivers a nuanced and enjoyable experience. I actually don’t miss the heavy peat influence here, as each sip reveals a blend of elements that leaves a lasting impression.

On Ice

Ice has a tendency to alter the dynamics of whiskey, and there is a sizable shift here. The coffee and dark chocolate flavors, which once took the lead, now fade a bit which allows other elements to come forward. With the dilution from the ice, there is a more pronounced presence of peat, lending a smoky and earthy character to the whiskey. Alongside the peat, a subtle bitterness (reminiscent of coffee that has been left on the burner too long) starts to emerge.

I would not describe it as bad, though — rather, it’s an intriguing twist to the overall experience.


Overall Rating

I usually like my Scotch to punch me in the face with peat and slap me twice for good measure. The GlenDronach Revival offers a departure from the bold, salty, peaty drubbing of Islay whiskies, instead presenting a more subtle and complex flavor profile. I appreciate the nuances and depth found in this whisky, making it a worthy exploration for bourbon drinkers seeking to delve into the world of Scotch.

GlenDronach Revival 15 Year
Produced By: GlenDronach
Owned By: Brown-Forman Corp.
Production Location: Highlands, Scotland
Classification: Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Aging: 15 Years
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $104.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4/5
It may not knock you out with a peaty punch, but its subtle and complex flavor profile proves that sometimes a lover, not a fighter, can win you over.


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