There are just 8 whiskies left in the Kensington Wine Market 2016 Whisky Advent Calendar. There are two different whiskies for Day 18… and as you can imagine there is a story there. If you picked your calendar up before a certain date, you are likely to have BenRiach 10 Year Curiositas. We hadn’t planned to include this in this year’s Calendar, as it was in last year’s. However, there was an issue with the whisky we intended to use, Glendronach 8 Year The Hielan, and we didn’t want to hold up the release of our calendars for a month while we waited for it to be released. So if you have BenRiach 10 Year Curiositas, I am going to point you to our post from last year. Click here to read last year’s post on BenRiach 10 Year Curiositas. Anyone who received both this and last year’s calendar, and who received the BenRiach 10 Year Curiositas in your calendar this year, is welcome to pick up a complimentary Glendronach 8 Year Hielan 50ml from the shop. We have a list of all affected individuals.
Back to tonight’s planned whisky, Glendronach 8 Year The Hielan. The name “The Hielan”, is a reference to the local dialect spoken in the vicinity of the Glendronach Distillery in the Eastern Highlands. The people here are not Celts but the Doric people, and there is a very distinct accent in the area surrounding Aberdeen. These people are sometimes referred to as the Mid Northern Scots or Northeast Scots. The whisky has been matured for 8 years in a mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks, and has been bottled at 46%.
Wind the clock back a decade and Glendronach was a little known Highland distillery. Whisky connoisseurs in the know, knew of that ‘Guid Auld Glendronach” but the brand had been long neglected by its owners, and it was an unknown quantity to your average punter. In 2008 the BenRiach Distillery Co., headed by industry veteran Billy Walker, made a successful bid for the distillery purchasing it from Pernod Ricard. Billy and his consortium (Intra Traing) had previously bought the BenRiach Distillery from Pernod in 2004. With BenRiach Billy and his team wasted no time re-launching the brand, releasing a new core range of single malts including both peated and unpeated expressions. A year later they began putting out single cask bottlings, and BenRiach quickly became one of the Scotch industry’s most talked about producers. So when the BenRiach Distillery Co. announced its purchase of the Glendronach Distillery in 2008, whisky fanatics instantly began salivating.
They didn’t have to wait long for their hopes and dreams to be rewarded. Only months after the takeover in 2009, Glendronach released a new core range of what have proven to be stalwart whiskies: 12, 15 and 18 year olds. The following year they opened a visitor center and they added the first release of Glendronach Grandeur 31 Year, 11 vintage single casks and four wood finish expressions. They haven’t looked back since and the world has not been able to get enough of them. Over the last few years we’ve seen prices creeping up and we’ve started hearing rumours about some of the whiskies being put into allocation (like this 15 Year). The downside of Glendronach’s growth is that they are struggling to keep up with demand. In just 4 years Glendronach went from being a little know distillery to the best selling whisky in our store. We now sell twice as much Glendronach as the next closest rival, in large part because of the amazing single casks we have been lucky enough to bottle.
Glendronach has one of the greatest founding myths of any distillery in the world. The distillery was founded in 1826 by James Allardice, hidden in the Forgue valley in the bucolic rolling hills north of Huntly. When he finally had whisky to sell Allardice did as one would in that day, he made his way to Edinbrugh, Scotland’s largest city, to peddle his wares. After a long and futile day of calling on bars and pubs he decided to return to his hotel defeated. On the way, walking up the Cannongate, Allardice was propositioned by two ladies of the night, and this is where versions of the story diverge.
The one I prefer has Allardice sharing or gifting a flagon of his whisky to the ladies at the end of their affair. Perhaps it was a gratuity or payment for services rendered, or just a favour from a man desperate to share his whisky with anyone. Regardless, the next day the ladies returned to buy a bottle of that “Guid Auld Glendronach” to share with their friends, and that gave Allardice an idea. Common practice of the time was to buy the lady a drink before engaging in other business. So he paid them to ask for his whisky by name. and all of a sudden Edinburgh’s bars could get enough of that “Guid Auld Glendronach! Whatever the truth, it is a hell of a tale…
Glendronach 8 Year The Hielan – 46% – Ex-Bourbon & Ex-Sherry - Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: malty, a touch of barnyard and wet hay; raisins and waxy chocolates; Fig Newtons, juicy orange and Bananas Foster. Palate: big, rich, nutty and fruity; loads of caramel, more malt and wet hay; Sunrype boxed raisins and Glosset Raisins; more Fig Newtons, juicy orange and cooked banana; soft new leather and a touch of spice. Finish: medium in length and light; leather, dark fruits and spice last the longest. Comment: surprisingly pleasant and complex for just 8 years… not mind blowing, but very good for 8 years of age!” - $64
Stay tuned tomorrow, for KWM Whisky Advent Day 19!