August 16, 2013

Review: Glendronach Parliament 21 Year - Natural Beastly Beauties

GlenDronach was our first love story with a very lightly peated scotch.  From the sordid past of our hero, James Allardice, with his prostitute guerilla marketing department, to its 100% sherry cask aging, to its wonderful dark and natural color, the 15-Year GlenDronach Revival won our hearts and sent our taste buds soaring.  When our package arrived from the chaps at Royal Mile Whiskies with our bottle of the 21-Year Parliament bottling, anticipation was overwhelming.

The very thought of another natural colored sherried beauty awaiting us at home tickled our hearts and minds like an old jazz standard.

Battle of the Natural Beauties

So we couldn't resist putting these two beauties head-to-head for a sherry battle extraordinaire.  Here are the tasting notes, draw your swords and prepare to fight!


Revival:  Yes, the Swedish Fish are back.  Uber-sweet red candy.  Some citrus - candied orange peels, and maybe a hint of lemon rind.

Parliament: Beautiful fine wood and fruit.  The sweetness is more subtle here.  Instead of Swedish Fish it's like ripe plums sitting in a cherry wood salad bowl.  The wood has lots more definition - bold oak with a hint of char.  The dessert wine and the wood combine for a truly wonderful nose.  It smells like an expensive date...  the kind that ends well.


Revival:  Been savoring this bottle since our review a few months ago and now it's an old friend.  Thick with some plummy oil, raisins, stone fruits (a "sherry bomb" as it's affectionately dubbed by whisky geeks the world over), a tiny hint of smoke, and a lovely undercurrent of oak.

Parliament:  Oh my.  That is some good shiznit.  So many complex flavors going on here.  There's honey, there's fruit, spices and wood.  Dramatically more sophisticated than the 15-Year.  Let's try and break it down...  The 15 is a single malt married with a dessert wine.  Pretty straightforward spirit flavor and oak topped with hefty brandied sweet dessert wine.  The 21-Year is much bigger.  A lot more body with big bold spirit flavors - oak, leather, a hint of smoke, and spicy pepper flakes, and hot mustard.  The fruits are still dominant and ever-present, but more refined.  Sweet cherries, nectarines, ripe melon.   High-cocoa dark chocolate.  Just a fullness and richness that's hard to put into words, but is immediately apparent in the head-to-head.  Almost like a hint of a very high quality rye whiskey with a spicy dry heat.


Revival:  The sweet syrupy fruits slowly fade, leaving a warm whisky glow.  Very nice simple finish, no new flavors being discovered but also no bitterness or burn.

Parliament:  It's the same phenomenon where the sweet dessert wine flavor diminishes and is replaced.  However in this case there are three waves of flavor experience.  After the sweet comes a rich flurry of spices: cinnamon, burnt chili pepper, hot mustard, and orange rind.  Then after the spices come florals: herbal wildflowers, rose hips, and mint.  Then finally it resolves with a very clean finish of oak floating over a very strong spirit warmth.

Review:  We were blown away by the Parliament.  It's not to be missed.  The extra few percent of alcohol is awesome and really turns up the boldness, countering the sweetness for a terrific balance.  We still love the Revival, but this bottle makes it look one-dimensional, taking the sherried-malt quality up a notch with a whole new level of sophistication.  It's a really awesome experience.  At £58.29 [$90] (note - this is for the UK 700ml size instead of the American 750) the Glendronach Parliament can do battle with any <$100 malt.  A SmokyBeast "A".  Grab one and treat yourself.  Let us know what you think.  /sb


  1. Hey Guys,
    this is Marcus from Germany. A really nice review of a great malt. For me the Parliament is the best Glendronach from their standard range. And it´s only beaten by some much more expensive single Cask bottlings, which is saying something.
    You can´t own enough of this...


    1. Agreed! We actually just picked up the 1992 PX single cask and we'll have to conduct yet another head-to-head soon!