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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Birthday Malt Report: Glen Grant 35 year old 1974 The Octave (Duncan Taylor)

Last year, I was the 34 year old boy who had the 34 year old Glen Grant.

This year, I was the 35 year old boy who had the 35 year old Glen Grant.

Distillery: Glen Grant
Ownership: Campari
Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Brand: The Octave
Age: 35 years (1974 - 12 January 2010)
Maturation: refill ex-bourbon for first 35 years, then 3 months in a sherry octave
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 48.8%
Chill filtered? No
Caramel Coloring? No
Limited Release: 70 bottles

Why Glen Grant again?

There are (or at least used to be) a number of fairly affordable old indie (Laing, Duncan Taylor, Gordon & MacPhail, etc.) Glen Grants on the market.  For instance, this bottle of 35 year old cask strength single malt was about $140 two years ago.  Today, whiskies half that age (and some of them not cask strength) go for that price.

But more importantly, Master of Malt had a sample of it.  I was on the lookout for a 35 year old dram and they were selling it.  Simple as that.  Anyway, I gave a similar speech last year so let's move along to the boozy part.

Last year's old Glen Grant was very good and noticeably peated.  This year's old Glen Grant was also good, but had no peat and just a little smoke in the finish.

Last year, I gave the big thumbs up to the fact that Speyside/Highland distilleries like Glen Grant used to have their own peated maltings, thus the presence of the light phenolic note on the 34yr.  This year, let me say: Yes, the old distilleries used to have their own malting floors, but Glen Grant closed theirs in 1962 and have been sourcing their malted barley ever since.  And their current source has been unpeated for quite some time.  So I wasn't necessarily wrong last year but......HEY WHAT'S THAT OVER THERE!

I gave this malt and its drinking companion (to be posted tomorrow) 35 minutes in the Glencairn before approach.  And as in all birthday malt situations, water was not added.

Color - Copper (or more specifically, a light gold with slight red highlights)

Nose - Sweet and spicy oak hit first, which is surprising for an oldie.  I'm assuming this comes from the tiny octave cask they used for the finish.  Perhaps they used generously charred American oak before swishing the sherry around?  But after that immediate burst, the nose gets dreamy.  Cinnamon and sugar on buttered toast, then toffee cake, cotton candy, and apricot jam.  And it keeps going...

When my wife whips up a batch of her stunning pie crust, there's always bit of dough left over.  So she puts butter, cinnamon, and sugar inside, then rolls it up and bakes it.  Out of the oven comes The Hobo Roll and it is devoured before it cools.  Who put Hobo Roll in my Glen Grant?

When I was a kid, my mom baked mandel bread (or mandelbrot).  Her version was a simple dough with chocolate chips inside.  After it's baked, cinnamon and sugar are sprinkled on top while it cools.  It is then munched on by happy children.  Who put Mom's mandel bread in my Glen Grant?

Setting aside the intense sense memories, I saw the cinnamon & sugar & dough theme running through.

Palate - Pipe tobacco and leather at the start.  Cinnamon candy and sea salt caramels.  It's very malty and there's still something like cookie dough in there.  After some time, a Glen Grant-esque herbal note peeks out in the background, but then it gets pushed aside by masculine cologne and Orange Crush.  Not bad, but it doesn't sustain the nose's beauty.

Finish - Sweeter here with citrus peel.  And now someone smoked that pipe tobacco.  Maybe some smoked almonds, but it's definitely nutty.  Orange Crush and cologne again.

This one started very strongly then gradually slowed down.  The nose may have placed itself in the All-Time Subjective Top Ten, but even though the palate was very good, it couldn't compete.  The finish was decent but not significant.  The descent may be due to the fact that I wasn't crazy about the cologne and Orange Crush combo as it felt slightly off, clashing with everything else in the whisky.  Those quibbles don't stick in my mind that much.  What I do remember most is the joy of the baked treats from my past and present.

Availability - It's all gone  :-(
Pricing - Here's a link to the old good price
Rating - 89