In the whisky game, it’s all about tradition.
It’s a rich, time-honored pastime where the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings true, where old-school techniques have stood the test of time in crafting superb spirits.
Dr. Rachel Barrie is the new master blender at BenRiach, The GlenDronach, and Glenglassaugh. For the last two years, she’s been responsible for overseeing the maturation of newly produced spirits into finished whisky, including vatting, wood selection, blending, quality control and regulatory compliance.
Previously, Barrie served as master blender of Morrison Bowmore Distillers for five years, where she led the whisky creation for the Bowmore, Auchentoshan, and Glen Garioch distilleries, as well as Laphroaig and Ardmore. Before that, she worked with the Glenmorangie Company for 16 years, eight of those years as whisky creator and master blender for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg single malts.
We spoke with Rachel about working at The GlenDronach and the brand’s standout spirits.
How many master blenders have there been before you?
There has been one previous master blender for all three distilleries.
What stands out about the 15 Year Old Revival?
Revival is the pinnacle of single malt perfection at 15 years old, balancing sweet and dry, elegance and a hearty body, and finesse with an exquisite, long finish. Although just launched, it’s already won the highest accolade of Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards. With the fine taste of maraschino cherry, manuka honey, dark chocolate, and espresso, it glides over the palate with a swathe of silk-velvet, leaving a rich and elegant, long finish.
How do you personally enjoy GlenDronach best?
I most enjoy GlenDronach neat, to sip and savor with time. It has taken many years to make, and I like to slow down and appreciate its depth and complexity.
How would you suggest people enjoy it?
Try GlenDronach neat first, then add water to taste as required. However, I encourage people to enjoy it however they choose. Every person is different.
Do you consider GlenDronach best for sipping?
To me, GlenDronach is the best sipper of them all, as layers of richness and complexity evolve and intensify, even in a single sip.
What would you like bartenders to know about the brand?
This is “old-style” single malt, made in the same way through the centuries, using the same cast iron mash tun, wooden washbacks and saxophone-shaped stills, matured in the original style of early 19th century Spanish oak sherry casks. GlenDronach is celebrated for its mastery of sherry cask maturation, where every drop will have been in a sherry cask, creating an unsurpassed rich, complex and robust character, revered by connoisseurs across the globe.
You’re new at GlenDronach—how would you like to leave your mark on the brand?
I’d like to create a range of award-winning whiskies, each celebrating the distinctive facets of GlenDronach’s rich, robust, and complex character. I’d like each whisky to tell the story of its roots in the valley of Forgue, true to its 1826 origins. My role first and foremost is as a guardian of the quality of GlenDronach, much like the parliament of rooks that have protected the distillery over the centuries.