When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. So what do you do when handed a sample of Single Cask Oloroso Matured Whisky? Obviously you get home as soon as you can and create a line up against other Superb Oloroso Sherried Whiskies!

Having nosed this Benrinnes 13 Year Old at the shop, courtesy of Connal from Adelphi who was dropping off our latest order (come back anytime Connal, next rounds on me!) I had to take a sample home and pit it against some of my favourite drinking drams. Here’s how it fared against the GlenDronach Manager’s Casks 219 and 218 and Hazelburns recent 14 Year Old Oloroso matured release. For good measure and a yardstick we have GlenDronach’s 18 Year Old Allardice (2017 bottling)

Starting with the nosing:

Benrinnes: Liquorice, treacle and spices including ginger and cinnamon.

No spirituous nip or heat allows you to delve deep into this dram without adding water. Quite an accolade for a 13 year old bottling at 55.5%. It really is one of those drams that you could spend most of your night nosing. Sweet nutty aromas come through, a real obvious Oloroso dram straight from the off.

GlenDronach 219: My favourite of the recent hand-fills from the Distillery. It’s been a while since my sample bottle has been opened so when I delve in I was greeted by a musky, oaky dram. A far cry from the sweet, luscious notes I was expecting having had this one a few times before. Furniture polish and subtle hazelnuts come through.

GlenDronach 218: Released straight after 219 above, this Single Oloroso Butt, by comparison to both above, is quite spirit led. It has a nip quite early on in the nose, almost blocking any investigation without water. H20 releases ginger nut biscuits and charred oak.

Hazelburn 14 Year Old 2019 Release: A lighter version of an Oloroso cask. Younger than the two GD above, but a year older than BR. A marriage of casks gives this dram a more balanced approach. Menthol notes come through freshly sawn wood aromas, balanced with polish, red grapes and hot soaked raisins.

GlenDronach Allardice (2017): Ok, my absolute go to dram here. Having it last for two reasons – one to cleanse the palate, and two, I’m comparing Oloroso Sherries! I can’t NOT have this one. Surprisingly light, approachable and easy on the nose. I can’t really discern the flavours I love on this one after the four above. I have decided Allardice won’t get compared again tonight. There is no winner in doing that.

On to the Palate:

BR 13: Mincemeat pies drizzled in cinnamon. Ginger spices come through a meaty, cloying texture. Spices fill the mouth, again a distinct lack of alcohol spirit. Burnt Brown Sugar, nutty flavours and treacly sweetness.

GD219: There’s the dram I love! After a slightly disappointing welcome back on the nose, she hits me full on with juicy sherry goodness. A wonderful thick mouthfeel clings to every iota of space. Lovely ginger, clove and nutmeg, with freshly soaked sticky toffee pudding mixture.

GD218: Maybe I’m doing this in the wrong order. It comes across very dry, which I had never noticed on this dram going solo. Charred oak, very spicy and woody bitterness. There are good notes in here of dark fruit and nut chocolate bars, sugary Ovaltine and bread and butter pudding. Tonight though they seem overpowered by dryness and alcohol spice.

HB 14: Hazelburns traditional creamy, grassy flavours come through more than any of the other releases new make notes. You can almost definitely tell this has a different texture, due to triple distillation. Perhaps a perk of marrying casks together. Bottled at 49.3% it is also slightly more easy on the mouthfeel. Not as spicy. Not better or worse, just different. The sherries notes of Dark Bitter Chocolate, ginger and creamy walnut whip chocolate are all present.

Finally, Iconically, The Finish:

BR 13: Dry, nuttiness initially then a fantastic reflux of juicy, mouthwatering goodness. Absolutely salivating stuff! It’s rich, intense and almost the palate coming back again to say ‘hey! remember me?’ Stunning.

GD219: Dry, oaky notes. Full-on chocolatey bitterness with woody notes. Long lasting and slowly drying out the mouth leaving a very moreish and addictive nutty salted caramel note.

GD218: Thin, enveloping notes of caramel and walnuts with brandy snap baskets. Burnt brown sugar with a slap of cinnamon. A lovely length, not too lingering, but just enough to be enjoyable and the best part of the dram tonight. A shame it hasn’t fought well on this occasion as I normally really like this guy.

HB14: The first time tonight I get coffee beans, surprisingly given the company we are in. Peppered notes and salted caramel come through in a medium length, finishing with a malty, fresh baked bread note.

Completely forgot the “Before” Picture!

Conclusion: While this review was prompted by the introduction of the Adelphi Range to our Shelves (You can see their full range in stock here) it has been a great exercise pitting these fantastic drams against each other. Lots of oohs and aahs, some flavours I hadn’t picked up on before and some fun along the way, though isn’t whisky tasting always like that?!

Top Dram: GlenDronach 219. Despite a lowly start, she came back fighting. A huge sherry monster and a true sight of why GlenDronach is such a big hitter in the sherried whisky world,

A Close Second: Benrinnes 13 Year Old, Adelphi Release. Such a good whisky. If we took into account the price and whole shebang here, I would put this top. At £86, she’s an absolute gem.

3rd: Hazelburn 14 Year Old Oloroso. A real humdinger. I really enjoy this dram on it’s own. It has all the characteristics we would want in an Oloroso Sherry Cask whisky. It just didn’t quite hit the full on heights of the previous two.

4th: GlenDronach 218. Not this ones night tonight. To be fair she was up against some real belting whiskies. On it’s own this dram really has great characteristics. Unfortunately tonight it’s weaknesses were exposed. Namely the high spirituous notes came through all to obviously.

And if anyone is wondering where our old friend Allardice comes in overall…he finished the night in my right hand.