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Glen Dronach. Just one of the ways Brown Forman has re-entered the single malt business.

August 19, 2016

I arrived at Glen Dronach 10 minutes after 11am. Once you have been on about 20 distillery tours, you know the routine and this meant I may or may not be allowed to join that 11am tour. If I do miss it, I will probably have to wait until after lunch for the next one. So I begged to hop on and catch up with the group. I didn’t miss much, but because of this I have no idea when Glen Dronach opened or began production! I could look it up, but I don’t think it’s important. This place was what you would imagine a farm distillery to be. Beautiful rolling hills, farm animals and crops all along open land. The smoke stack is how you know you have arrived to Glen Dronach.

 

There are many things that I do know about Glen Dronach. They are part of the family of sister distilleries that Brown Forman purchased just this summer. These include Ben Riach, Glen Dronach and Glen Glassaugh. Brown Forman is an American Company that currently owns brands such as Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve. This is my first visit in Scotland with an American flag flying in the air. They will be an interesting one to keep an eye on to see what the American drinks giant has in store for these single malts. Most of the staff that work on site are not sure what is being prepared for the future. They did say that all of the southern accented American’s have been very nice so far though. Some of the tour guides actually thought I was from Brown Forman doing research and watching how things were running. I hope I didn’t give this scary impression! I also don’t say “Ya’ll”, so that should’ve been the first give away to them.

 

They were currently in a silent season, so I was able to take many pictures. The work schedule consists of 5 days a week and this silent season had been going on since August 1st. Unfortunately, this meant I didn’t have the lovely oatmeal smell. We saw the mill room first, which was quite dirty compared to other grist mill’s I have seen. They had a copper mash tun and nine washbacks that were all wood.  They run about 4 mashes a day each running 6 hours. Their stills were very interesting. They had a crazy, curvy, long lynne arm which made me excited to try the drams at the end. Ninety percent of their casks go into European oak and they are known for their sherry casks, both Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez. They currently have 45,000 casks on site in their warehouses.

 

When the three owners/investors of the sister distilleries decided to sell earlier this year, they definitely made returns on their investment. They sold the “Benriach Distilling Co.” for 285 Million Pounds. Brown Forman hadn’t been in the single malt industry since it sold its stake in Glenmorangie in 2005. The three investors who grew the three brands to what they are today were Billy Walker, Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter. Billy Walker was the face around the distilleries and also the master blender. He came from the whisky world. The two other investors were from South Africa.  See the full article on the sale below.

 

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/business/north-of-scotland/902091/billy-walker-sells-benriach-285million/

 

Although they are small, there was quite a range of single malts. A few staples in the portfolio included the 8 Year, 12 Year, Cask Strength Editions, 18 Year and 21 Year. I tried the Glen Dronach 12 Year.

 

 Glen Dronach 12 Year

 

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Spiced Apple cider, apple pie, oak, caramel.

Palate: The spices you put in hot apple cider, coco, cedar/sap, sweetness, oaky finish like chopsticks.

*Missed the vanilla and raisins on this one.

 

Up next is Knockdhu..

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