Sherry Cask Scotch Whisky Tasting

Welcome to this month's Tasting! 

This month, enjoy a selection of the world’s top sherry cask finished whiskies from the Highlands and Speyside region in Scotland.

Sherry cask finishes provide whiskies with a delightful rich sweetness that makes them smooth, fruity and easy to go down.

Most sherry cask finishes spend the last 1-2 years maturation in ex-oloroso sherry casks from Spain.

GlenDronach Original 12 yr old

This superb richly sherried single malt is matured for at least 12 years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. Non-chill filtered, of natural colour and bottled at 43%, the GlenDronach 12 year old Original is a sweet, creamy dram.

As of 1996, Glendronach was mothballed for a number of years by its then owners, Allied Distillers. It returned to full production in 2002. Allied Distillers was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 2005 and the distillery was passed to Chivas Brothers. In the same year the distillery converted to steam heating (it was one of the last to heat the stills by coal fire). This bottling of the 12 year old is the first 'new' release since the distillery recommenced production following its six year lay off. It's 'upgraded' to 43% ABV, unchill filtered and matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso Sherry casks.

Tasting Notes-

COLOUR:  Deep amber-red gold.

NOSE: Sweet, creamy vanilla, with hints of ginger. Spiced mulled wine and pear.

PALATE:   Rich, creamy, silky-smooth. Warm, rich oak and sherry sweetness, full mouth feel, raisins and soft fruits. Spicy with medium length and a dry finish.

CONCLUSION:   Long, full and firm, slightly nutty.


GlenDronach ‘The Hielan’ – 8 yr old single malt

Hielan = Highland.

This single malt has been matured and married in a combination of the finest bourbon and sherry casks for at least 8 years. Non-chill filtered, of natural colour and bottled at 46%, The Hielan’ encompasses a unique combination of sweet, buttery aromas with spicy, sherry overtones. The Hielan’ is a tribute to the dialect spoken in the distillery’s surrounding area in the Scottish Highlands.

Unveiled in mid-2015, GlenDronach's The Hielan' is a rather handsome entry level 8 year old single malt from the Highland distillery's range, matured and married in bourbon and Sherry casks. Delightfully buttery with a good helping of chewy raisin and almond notes at its core, joined by touches of citrus and spice.

Tasting Notes-

COLOUR: Amber with a burnished copper glow.

NOSE: Rounded waves of orange blossom and a citrus twist flow over buttery, golden sultanas, sundried raisins and ripe yellow plums; all dusted with a touch of vanilla.

PALATE: Crisp, vibrant oak spices warm soaked sultanas, apricot jam and gingerbread; all rounded by delicate hints of butterscotch, cocoa and toasted almonds.

CONCLUSION: Classic sherry overtones with a contrasting crisp dimension demonstrate the complexity of the traditional Highland character


Glenfarclas 15 yr old single malt

Glenfarclas is renowned for producing Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky in the traditional Speyside style, with a heavy Sherry influence. The 15 Year Old is an excellent opportunity to observe the unfolding and development of these much admired characteristics. With greater complexity than the younger whiskies, Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is quite simply, a great whisky drinker's whisky. The 15 Year Old is bottled at 46% because the grandfather of the Master Distiller preferred it at this strength, and following in tradition, it's still a family and indeed, world favourite.

In his 2007 Whisky Bible, Jim Murray gave Glenfarclas 15 Year Old a score of 95/100, one of the highest scores he has awarded. Now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generation of the family, the Glenfarclas Distillery remains committed to the vision of creating the best quality single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, in the traditional Speyside style.

Famous as one of Speyside’s most masculine whiskies and one of Scotland's most richly Sherry-influenced expressions, Glenfarclas 15 is matured in 60% x-Sherry casks, with the remainder x-Bourbon, but with a difference. The latter barrels are shaved back in order to minimise their flavour input, putting the focus almost completely on the Sherry. Bottled at 46%, the result is a whisky that just about anyone could love. 

Tasting Notes-

COLOUR: A rich golden amber

NOSE: Intense, powerful sherry. Cream sherry, almost… a touch of peppermint? An almost rancio quality to this. Smells older than 15.

FLAVOUR: full bodied with a superb balance of sherried sweetness and malty tones.

FINISH: long lasting, gloriously sherried, sweet and distinguished.


Glenfarclas 12 yr old single malt

Hailing from Speyside, Glenfarclas means Glen of the Green Grassland, and the freshness of the 12 Year Old certainly suggests a green, rolling countryside in springtime. In 2006 the 12 Year Old was named the "Best Sherried Whisky" in the Single Malt World Cup. More recently Glenfarclas 12 Year Old won Gold at the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival in 2007 and again in 2008. Glenfarclas is proudly family owned and operated since the beginning, and is one of the only distilleries in Scotland that can still claim to be fully independent.

Now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generation of the family, the Grants remain committed to the vision of creating the best quality single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, in the traditional Speyside style. 

The Glenfarclas 12 Year Old is fresh and beautifully light with sherried fruit combined with a tempting spicy sweetness and a hint of sappy oak on the nose.
The palate is full bodied, with delightful sherried fruit, oak, a hint of peat and delicious sweet sensations, ending with a long and flavoursome spiciness.

100% oloroso sherry cask maturation

An excellent introduction to the distillery style – for those who enjoy a sherried whisky.

To be consumed neat or with a drop of water.

A great accompaniment to smoked salmon or ibérico ham

Tasting Notes-

COLOUR: vibrant amber-gold

NOSE: fresh and beautifully light.  Sherried fruit combined with a tempting spicy sweetness
and a hint of sappy oak.

FLAVOUR: full bodied with a delightful sherried fruit, oak and delicious sweet sensations.

FINISH: long and flavoursome with a lingering spiciness


Aberlour 10 yr old single malt

Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and sherry casks, this 10 year old from Aberlour remains a perennial favourite, typical of the modern Speyside style and thoroughly approachable. Such is its popularity that this bottling has been exported to over fifty countries.

Aberlour 10 year old was the distillery’s flagship single malt but is now extremely difficult to find.

“a lovely soft, gentle dram that is an excellent and affordable example of a sherry cask matured whisky”.

“The finish is long, starting sweetly before turning dry, nutty and refreshingly woody and spicy"

The distillery which was founded on its current site by James Fleming in 1879 is not open to the public. (However, visitors are welcomed by appointment during the Speyside Whisky Festival). The village ‘Aberlour’ (Gaelic for Mouth of the Chattering Burn) became nationally famous in the 19th century for its Orphanage. The town has preserved much of its historical character. Original houses, built of stones taken from the bed of the Spey, mingle with more recent buildings and landscaped public gardens.

Tasting Notes-


NOSE: The dry, fresh, fruity aromas of early autumn apples and pears are subtly enhanced with sweet notes of vanilla and mint toffee.

PALATE:  Exceptionally smooth and creamy, with spicy-sweet nutmeg and honey combining with the freshness of autumn fruits.

FINISH: Long, soft and warming.