Those who are disappointed that I am not reviewing very many whiskies these days will be thrilled to see that this week’s review is of a Glen Grant that was released in the Netherlands almost nine years ago. I will have some more recently released Glen Grants in the weeks to come—I recently hosted a vertical tasting of Glen Grant for members of my local tasting group—but I’m starting with this bottle which I’ve been dipping into regularly since I opened it.
For a lot of people Glen Grant is associated with sherry maturation but it’s a spirit that seems to do very well in bourbon casks as well. It’s not a distillery with a sexy reputation these days, and few people seem to get excited about bourbon cask whisky, especially unpeated bourbon cask whisky, but bourbon cask Glen Grant is well worth a look.
Glen Grant 23, 1985 (55.8%; Whisky Import Nederland; bourbon hogshead 10182; from my own bottle)
Nose: Toasted oak, tart apple and some lime. On the second sniff there’s a bit of buttery pastry crust as well but the acidic fruit is the dominant note. Gets maltier as it sits and the buttery note expands; the tart fruit is still around though. With more time sweeter fruit emerges as well—red berries, a touch of cherry—and the citrus moves in the direction of citronella; and there’s a vague paraffin note as well. With a lot more time the citrus gets zestier and there’s some apple peels and some green banana in there too. About 30 minutes in there’s some pineapple as well. With water the fruit gets muskier.
Palate: Leads with the lime and spicy oak and then the sweeter fruit comes on from behind as I swallow. Very nice texture and it’s very drinkable indeed at full strength. Maltier here too with time and the oak expands too (but it’s never tannic) and faint tropical hints to the fruit. With more time the tropical hints turn into suggestions. Water brings out some bitter oak extract but it’s not overbearing.
Finish: Long. The sweeter fruit and the oak battle to a tasty draw. The oak gets spicier (pepper) with time. More oak here too with water but the fruit emerges again at the end.
Comments: This is a really lovely whisky: a perfect marriage of oak and fruit. With a few more years in the cask the tropical notes might have expanded but the oak might have gotten too obtrusive too. This was bottled at the right time and it’s an excellent advertisement for the charms of bourbon cask whisky. As a certain potato-headed occasional commenter on the blog always says, Scotch whisky is not all about peat and sherry.
Rating: 90 points.