...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Glen Grant 13 year old 1993 James MacArthur Old Masters, cask 121926

The Glen Grant cluster (see the series homepage here) begins with one of my bottles, purchased during quieter times. Distilled at the end of the distillery's direct-firing period, this single bourbon barrel of Glen Grant was released by the reliable independent bottler James MacArthur in their Old Masters series. The bottler had its heyday in the Nineties and early Aughts but has gone quiet over the past few years. Their website doesn't appear to have been updated since 2014, and Whiskybase shows 11 JM whiskies released between 2017 and 2019, zero in 2020. I hope they haven't closed down, but cask hoarding during the so-called boom may have hindered their business.

I opened this bottle two months ago as I began scheduling the 2021 reviews. This review pour comes from the top-third of the bottle.

Distillery: Glen Grant
Region: Speyside (Rothes)
Ownership at time of distillation: Seagram's
Bottler: James MacArthur
Brand: Old Masters
Age: 13 years (1993 - 2007)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Cask #: 121926
Alcohol by Volume: 57.7%
(from my bottle)

Honey, mint leaves and orange oil appear first in the lovely nose. White nectarine flesh and lilac arise several minutes later. It gets louder and quirkier after 30 minutes with the arrival of watermelon Jolly Ranchers and low-rye American rye. It seems to drop to half its age when reduced to 46%abv. There's more barley, more yeast. Roses and toasted sesame seeds. New notes of blueberry pie filling and lime juice suddenly materialize at the end of the hour.

Citrus leads the full-strength palate, mostly limes. It has an oily texture and appearance. Plenty of malt and a light creaminess perch just above serrano pepper heat, clay and cashews. After about 30 minutes, the whisky gains notes of peaches and herbal bitterness. Diluted to 46%abv, it gets much sweeter. Fruity Kasugai and Haribo gummies sit on top, an acidic and mineral bite rest beneath.

The citrus and minerals are present in the full-strength finish. Cashews, walnuts and bitter lettuces mix with peaches in the distance. The finish calms down once reduced to 46%abv, calm and fruity with limes and nectarines.

I'm not sure one could ask for much more out of a 13 year old bourbon barrel Speysider. It has a bit of a punch from the ABV when sipped neatly, but that doesn't stop me from going back for a second pour every time, thanks to the mix of fruit and minerals. I'd like to think its thick texture is due to direct firing, but I'm not sure I can prove it. So I'll just enjoy it. If you have an unopened bottle of this at home, I recommend relieving the (probably broken) cork of its duties in the spring or summer.

Tomorrow, I'll review an age-stated bottling from the distillery itself...

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $90 back in 2014
Rating - 88

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