After two weeks of peated whiskies (a week at Ardmore and then a week on Islay, at Caol Ila, Laphroaig and Bowmore) let’s end the month with what should be a pair of milder Speysiders. First up. a bourbon cask Glen Grant, distilled in 1993 and bottled at 13 years of age by James MacArthur (are they still around?).
Glen Grant 13, 1993 (57.7%; James MacArthur; bourbon cask 121926; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Tart fruit off the top (a mix of apples/cider and orange) along with some oak and a bit of chalk. Maltier with a bit of air and the fruit turns a bit muskier (over-ripe pear, a hint of pineapple). The oak turns first resinous and then leafy and the citrus gets tarter (lime now rather than orange, some of it makrut lime). With time and air the musky fruit and the malt expand. Water pushes the acid and oak back and brings out more of the sweet fruit along with some cream. Continue reading →
I began this week of reviews of Speyside whiskies on Monday with a Glenburgie distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2012. On Wednesday I jumped back in time to review a Mannochmore distilled in 1978 and bottled in 1998. Let’s close the week with a Glen Grant distilled just a few years before the Glenburgie and only bottled in 2019.
This was bottled by Signatory for the Nectar in Belgium and, like the other two whiskies this week, it’s from a bourbon cask, in this case a bourbon barrel (Signatory have always been more forthcoming with cask information than Scott’s Selection, the bottlers of Wednesday’s Mannochmore, ever were). I’ve liked a lot of the bourbon cask Glen Grants I’ve had, including the official Glen Grant 18, which I reviewed earlier this year. Well, I don’t know if that’s listed specifically as being from bourbon casks but that seemed very obviously to be the case. And I did very much like the last one I reviewed that was unambiguously from a bourbon barrel—this 22 yo, 1992 from Single Malts of Scotland. So the odds are good. But the proof is in the glass. Let’s get to it. Continue reading →
Let’s close the month with one more review of an official release. This Glen Grant 18 was apparently added to the distillery’s portfolio in 2016, where it sits at the top of the range. (The Glen Grant bottles were all redesigned at some point too—I have to admit I’ve not really kept track of the distillery releases.) Not too long after its introduction sentient wart Jim Murray named it one of the best whiskies of whatever year that was and I imagine that caused a mix of derision and frantic buying. It’s now widely available, including in the US where it seems to be going for anywhere between $110 and $160 and prices even further north. In the current single malt market an official release 18 yo in the $110 range is not a bad deal (if you can find it at that price). But is it any good?
Glen Grant 18 (43%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Fresh and juicy (apples, pears a bit of lemon) with some toaste oak in the background. Maltier/muskier on the second sniff with some pineapple in there too. Not too much change with time; maybe a bit sweeter. A drop or two of water and it’s muskier with more pear now than apple. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Let’s keep the run of OMC 20th anniversary releases going. As you may recall, I really liked the Arran 21 and thought the Laphroaig 12 was a bit too mono-dimensional. Here now is a Glen Grant 27, the oldest of the bottles in the split I went in on. (I don’t really know what the complete line-up of these releases was—it’s possible there were others that were even older). I’m a big fan of older Glen Grant and a big fan of older, sherried Glen Grant—both of which this is. In theory, at least, this has every chance of being my cup of tea. Let’s see if that turns out to be the case.
Glen Grant 27, 1991 (50%; Old Malt Cask, 20th Anniv. Release; sherry cask 17079; from a bottle split)
Nose: The first impression is of oak, not tannic, a little mentholated; past it come sweeter notes of red fruit (raspberries) and vanilla. On the second sniff there’s some citrus (orange). With more time there’s some milk chocolate and some of the leafy stuff from the palate. With a few drops of water the fruit expands nicely: apricot now to go with the orange. Continue reading →
I may as well begin my long series of reports on our recent trip to Scotland with a look at the first distillery we visited: Glen Grant. It had not originally been on my list of places to stop at in the Speyside—where we rented a house with friends for a weekend after our time in Edinburgh. But Florin recommended it as a distillery where there’d be a lot for non-whisky-crazed members of the party to do, and so we stopped in. Florin was right. Though I didn’t do it the way I think he’d meant I should: me touring the distillery while the others wandered the grounds. As on our last trip to Scotland, I didn’t want to spend most of my time inside distilleries, doing repetitive tours. Especially when a distillery like Glen Grant has something truly unusual outside it: expansive and very attractive grounds. And so I joined everybody else in the gardens, where the kids ran and played and had a grand old time for almost an hour. It was a very good whisky-free introduction to whisky country. Continue reading →
Here is the last of the Glen Grants I’d said I’d review back in February; and it’s the last Glen Grant I’ll probably review for a while. Like the Whisky-fässle and Maltbarn bottles I reviewed recently, this is also from 1992, but it is two years older than those two. It’s also unlike them in that it’s smoky, which I was not quite expecting. Now, the Whisky Exchange’s notes do mention “a distinct whiff of wood smoke” but there’s quite a bit more than a whiff here—everyone in my local tasting group remarked it when the bottle was opened earlier this year and if anything it’s got stronger as the bottle’s stayed open. In fact, I would say it’s smokier than indicated in Whisky Magazine’s notes, which do mention smoke. Surprisingly, Serge Valentin’s notes on Whiskyfun don’t mention smoke at all—that one’s a bit of a head-scratcher; there are no notes on it on Whiskybase. If you’ve had it, please write in and let me know if you found no/faint/palpable smoky notes. Continue reading →
Last week, I had a review of a Glen Grant 20, 1992 from a German bottler (Maltbarn). This week I have another. This one is from a bourbon hogshead and the bottler is Whisky-Fässle, whose releases I’ve generally had good luck with (though I’ve not reviewed many on the blog). I opened this bottle earlier this year along with the Maltbarn, a 23 yo from Whisky Import Nederland and another from 1992 bottled by the Whisky Exchange (review coming soon), all as part of a Glen Grant vertical for a subset of my local tasting group. We all liked this one more than the Maltbarn then, though the family resemblance was/is very strong. I drank the bottle down rather quickly after my return from London about a month ago—like the Maltbarn, it’s a particularly good summer malt—and I think I may have enjoyed the second half of the bottle more than the first. Here, before it’s all gone, are my notes. Continue reading →
Back in February I’d posted a review of a Glen Grant 23, 1985 and said I’d have more Glen Grant reviews in the weeks to come. Because I am a shameless liar I only posted one more Glen Grant review in the roughly 20 weeks that came after that. But what is time? An illusion, a fog. Here we are now in mid-July and the weeks fall away like magic and we’re returned to that halcyon time when all three people who read this blog regularly were agog at the thought of successive weeks of reviews of Glen Grants that are no longer available and were only available in Europe to begin with. See, dreams can come true.
This was bottled by Maltbarn, a small German independent bottler. This was only their 12th release—I’m not sure what number they’re up to now. The label says “ex-sherry butt” but, as you’ll see, it’s not exactly a sherry monster. Continue reading →
Last week I reviewed a bourbon cask Glen Grant that was distilled in 1985 and bottled in 2008. This week I have another Glen Grant from that era. This was distilled a year earlier but was bottled quite a bit later, in 2016 by Cadenhead’s. So, it’s not as untimely a review as the previous. It’s also not from a bourbon cask. Despite these important differences I’m interested to see if any obvious throughlines emerge from these two casks from the mid-1980s that might cause me to revise my skepticism about the notion of “distillery character”. I’m also interested to see how long-aged sherry cask Glen Grant from the mid-1980s compares to long-aged sherry cask Glen Grants from an earlier era—such as this excellent older release from Scott’s Selection.
(Cadenhead’s continues to use the -Glenlivet suffix on a number of their Speyside releases. Is this no longer prohibited?) Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Gordon & MacPhail do a number of “licensed” releases under these old-style labels (I put “licensed” in quotes here because while I’ve seen a number of references over the years to these as licensed bottlings, I don’t really know what that means in this context). The distilleries that most often show up in this general livery in the US these days are Mortlach, Strathisla and Glen Grant. Actually, I don’t know if they still show up steadily or if the bottles I see from time to time are old stock, as G&M don’t put bottling or vintage dates on most of these bottles. They also don’t bottle them at a very high proof: many of them are at 43% or below—nor do I know if the colour is natural. This one is at 40%. I’ve been tempted by it for some time but when a local retailer marked it down late last year I was finally unable to talk myself out of taking a flyer on it. Well, I am glad to say that it did not disappoint.
This Glen Grant 17 is from Whiskybroker the low-priced indie outfit of Martin Armstrong, the son of Raymond Armstrong, who was till recently one of the principals behind the revived Bladnoch distillery. Bladnoch’s fate continues to be unclear but Whiskybroker seems to be going strong. More power to them and their reasonable prices—though I have to say I have not been very highly impressed by many of their bottles that I’ve tried (I did like this Bowmore more than the others). Let’s see if this Glen Grant bucks the “trend”.
Glen Grant 17, 1993 (55%; Whiskybroker; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Quite spirity at first but as it settles there is a mouth-watering fruitiness (apples, a touch of pear) along with a lot of malt and sweet vanilla; just a little bit of grassiness too. After a minute or two more acidic notes emerge (lime peel, kiwi) and then get quite intense before merging with the buttery, vanilla sweet note. Really quite lovely. A drop of water emphasizes the lime at first but there’s a slight turn to a muskier, almost tropical sweet-sour note. Continue reading →
This ancient Glen Grant from Scott’s Selection is for me one of those stories that every whisky geek whose reach exceeds his or her bank balance’s grasp knows well. I saw it for years on shelves, listed at prices that were then past my comfort level (well past for whiskies on which little information was available), and passed. Now those prices are not entirely out of the question for me but I no longer see it on shelves. So when a friend offered me a sample I was partly hoping to have my initial qualms vindicated. But, as you’ll see, that did not turn out to be the case. Bloody hell.
Glen Grant 1967-2003 (55.1%; Scott’s Selection “Sherry Cask”; from a sample received in a swap)
It’s a little unusual for Scott’s Selection to specify cask type on the label but apparently it says “Sherry Cask” or “Sherry Wood” on this one. Continue reading →
Glen Grant, as I’ve said before, is one of the storied distilleries that I don’t know very well and so I’m always happy to try another one. I have a review scheduled for next month of a much older, sherried one from an earlier era but first, here’s this bourbon cask teenager from the late 1990s. I’ve liked all the Cadenhead’s Small Batch releases I’ve reviewed in this run–some more than others–and I hope this will keep the positive streak going.
Glen Grant 15, 1997 (55.8%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Wood makes the first impression–pencil shavings turning to lightly toasted oak. Some fruit below it (apples) and then an increasing maltiness. With more time there’s some white grape as well and the wood gets somewhat dusty; more acidic too now. The fruit expands, melds with the malt and gets much more musky with time. With water the vanilla from the palate shows up here too and the fruit really expands: peaches, oranges, plums. Continue reading →
Of the major Scottish distilleries Glen Grant is probably the one I have least experience of. Indeed, I’ve had more whiskies from Caperdonich (Glen Grant’s sister distillery) than I have from Glen Grant. And of the handful I’ve tried one has been among the worst Scotch whiskies I’ve ever had: a Duncan Taylor NC2 sherry cask bottling which was quite lovely on the nose, and fine on the palate but then turned to cheap cooking sherry on the finish. I had to consign most of that to a home blend–though I did reserve a large sample for reference, which means I may yet review it for the blog.
Anyway, Glen Grant has a very good reputation among the cognoscenti, especially much older, sherried iterations from the indies. This one is neither old nor sherried (nor an indie, for that matter) but I do like it. Continue reading →