It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a bottle from Archives, the excellent series from the Whiskybase shop which almost always provides good value; and so let’s go back to a bottle from their “First Release” (though if I recall correctly, this wasn’t actually their first release—it was preceded by an “Inaugural Release”). As with the Glencadam of similar age and vintage that I reviewed last month, this bottle is another reminder that just four years ago it was possible to purchase bottles of very old whisky of high quality for less than $200. And you didn’t have to be in a huge hurry either—I didn’t buy this as soon as it came out: I waited till reliable reviews of it were available.
I’m sorry if the above seems like a tiresome refrain. It just seems worthwhile to constantly remind ourselves of how much pricing has changed and in how short a period of time.
Glen Grant 36, 1975 (46.6%; Archives; hogshead 5476; from my own bottle)
Nose: Bright fruit with notes of apple cider first and then more in the direction of pear. Gets more acidic as it sits with lime zest and gooseberries; a slight grassiness too now. With time and air there are nice whiffs of muskier fruit (pineapple, dragon fruit) and that grassy note converts to the pleasant tinniness often found in older whiskies. Gets a bit sweeter as it sits with a touch of vanilla and some red berry notes coming through as well. With a lot more time and air the muskier notes expand a bit (though nowhere near the levels reached on the palate). A couple of drops of water and everything gets mixed up together but it’s still very pleasant.
Palate: Oh, that’s unexpected—way more fruity depth here, starting out musky with ripe peach and some tropical fruit and then wax. On the second sip there’s that tinny note from the nose and some oak spice. The mouthfeel feels just a bit too thin at first but after the third sip that no longer seems to bother. What really doesn’t bother is how intensely fruity it gets: in fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that with time it turns into a total fruit bomb, with the tropical notes more pronounced. A little spicier with water and still intensely fruity,
Finish: Medium. Still fruity but the richer, tropical fruit from the palate gives way to the berries that show up late on the nose. With water the tropical notes trump the berries and the finish is much longer now.
Comments: The nose is quite nice but it’s on the palate that this really pops. I really enjoyed that unexpected shift in fruitiness from the nose to the palate and how the fruitiness kept getting deeper—it ends up very much in early ’70s Caperdonich territory (though with berries in place of mango). I suspect that this is a function of the bottle having sat with some air for a few weeks after I opened it (and who knows, the extra four years on my shelf before I opened it might have done something too). The price I paid for this in 2012 now seems like an incredible value—I shudder to think of what would be asked for a cask of this age (even if below this quality) in 2016. If you have a bottle and, like me, are only getting around to opening it now: give it a lot of air and time.
Rating: 90 points.