Okay, let’s do one more old Glen Grant to close out the month. This one is two years older than Monday’s 35 yo and was distilled four years later, in 1974. The bottler, the venerable Berry Bros. & Rudd, put out one more 37 yo cask from 1974 (cask 7643). There have also been a large number of Duncan Taylor releases of older Glen Grants from 1974—including two bottled in the Lonach range. There are a few more releases from other independent bottlers as well. Clearly, there was a time when a large number of these casks were available to the indies—a broker or a blender’s surplus stock? In 2011, when this one was bottled, these could still be found at reasonable prices (which look like steals in today’s market where teenaged whiskies command more than $200). Anyway, I quite liked Monday’s 35 yo, despite its low bottling strength. This one is a single sherry cask and was bottled at closer to 50%. Let’s see if those things make any meaningful difference.
My friend Nick gave me a sample of this 3-4 years ago. I’d say maybe 40 ml that have been sitting in a tightly sealed 60 ml bottle. I note this because some of the reviews of this malt indicate that it takes a while to open up in the glass. I’m going to guess this pour will not need so much time.
Glen Grant 37, 1974 (49.3%; Berry Bros. & Rudd; cask 7646; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: A nice rich blend of dark sherry notes (orange peel, caramel, apricot jam) and polished oak. On the second sniff there’s a strong leafy note along with some plum sauce. The oak seems to get more pronounced with every sniff. The apricot gets more pronounced as it sits and the tobacco from the palate begins to show up here (as pipe smoke). Spicier with a couple of drops of water and the darker sherry notes get pushed back a bit.
Palate: Starts out with the sweeter notes and then the oak comes in: it’s more tannic here than on the nose but nothing over the top. Very nice texture at full strength. A hint of tobacco as I swallow. On the second sip the tropical fruit that developed late on the finish starts showing up earlier. With time the oak expands and is joined by some roasted malt and some bitter chocolate. Okay, let’s see what water does. Well, it pushes the oak back a bit but it also seems to wash the fruit out a bit.
Finish: Long. That tobacco note expands and then there’s quite a bit of fruit, turning quite tropical at the very end: a strong note of guava with a light sprinkling of black salt: just like we like in India. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, I don’t know if it’s on account of the headspace in the sample bottle for 3+ years but this is very nicely fruity and even the oak is not as over-bearing as reports had it. An excellent whisky and one I wish I had purchased at that price (though I can’t recall if I ever saw it then). Still, there is just a touch too much bitterness from the oak that keeps it from the next tier. I liked it best neat, especially after letting it sit uncovered in the glass for a while.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Nick for the sample!