Glen Grant 35, 1970 (Lonach)

Here’s a Glen Grant distilled the year I was born. Alas, it’s quite a bit younger than me, having been bottled in 2005. The bottler was the now defunct Duncan Taylor, responsible for a great number of older whiskies from the 1960s and 1970s that used to be available  widely for very reasonable prices till just about seven or eight years ago. Of the various series of older whiskies they put out in that era the ones bottled under the Lonach label were usually the cheapest. These were also usually all very close to the legal minimum alcohol content of 40% for Scotch whisky. The thinking among whisky geeks was that these were put together by vatting casks, some of which had probably slipped below that threshold, bringing the whole just up above 40% and allowing them to be retrieved for the single malt market. Then again that kind of thing probably happens a lot with more prestigious releases as well. What matters finally is what the whisky is like in the glass. Let’s find out.

Glen Grant 35, 1970 (41.8%; Lonach; from a bottle split)

Nose: Brown sugar, simple syrup, a bit of polished oak. On the second sniff there’s warm pastry crust, brown butter and overripe banana. Gets a little blanker as it sits. A few drops of water wake it back up—more acidic now.

Palate: Not as much happening on the palate to start—it starts off a bit watery with generic oaky bite. But as I swallow it begins to expand, with most of the stuff from the nose showing up. On the second sip there’s some lemon and some hints of tropical fruit (tart mango, passionfruit). More of the fruit with time. Okay, let’s see what water does. As often happens with older, lower-strength malts, water improves the texture. It also gives the fruit a bit more weight, though it’s the lemon rather than the musky fruit that’s now emphasized.

Finish: Medium-long. Quite a bit longer than I would have expected but there’s no new development as such. Alas, the tropical fruit notes don’t really expand, giving way instead to oak and metallic notes. With more time they hang out longer but don’t get more intense. As on the palate with water.

Comments: A very pleasurable whisky. Not over-oaked but definitely a cask (or casks) that had (collectively) lost a fair bit of oomph. You can taste a glimpse of how good the best version of this would have been but what it is is nothing to scoff at either. Quite reminiscent actually of the Longmorn 36 I recently reviewed.

Rating: 88 points.

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