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.
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.