...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Glen Grant, a four-week cluster

Welcome to HQ for this four-week cluster of Glen Grant single malt reviews! I have a dozen (oops, I just found 13) of them lined up and ready to go, including one bottle from my own whisky cabinet. These whiskies will be tasted and reviewed by age, youngest to oldest, though I may throw curveball if needed.

First, a brief history of the distillery.

Photo By S8z11

Originally dubbed Drumbain by the Brothers Grant in 1840, Glen Grant distillery produced whisky sold as a single malt as far back as the 1870s. Such was its popularity that Major James Grant Jr. (proprietor for fifty-nine years) commissioned a second distillery to be built in the late 1890s. Glen Grant Number Two (actual name) ran for four whole years before it was converted to malting floors, kilns and storage. The original Glen Grant distillery remained solely in the Grant family until 1953 when it merged with Glenlivet Distillery's company, forming The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distillers Ltd.

By the 1960s, Glen Grant was selling hundreds of thousands of bottles of their five-year-old single malt in Italy as other single malt brands were just getting off the ground. Number Two was reopened in 1965, gaining an actual appellation, Caperdonich.

The business deals continued into the 1970s, as The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distillers Ltd. merged with Longmorn-Glenlivet Ltd. and Hill Thompson & Co., creating The Glenlivet Distillers. A few years later this company was swallowed up by the Seagram's behemoth. When Seagram's was split up in 2001, Pernod Ricard nabbed Glen Grant. Campari then bought the distillery in 2006, and has remained the owner ever since.

Back in 1861, Glen Grant was the first distillery to install electric lighting, powered by an on-site turbine. Floor malting continued at the distillery until 1962, after which its malt was externally sourced. The distillery's stills were direct fired by coal until the 1970s, then it was gas, then a mix of gas and coal and steam. They were all switched to indirect steam firing prior to 2000. Caperdonich was retired two years later and its site was bulldozed in 2011. Now on its own, Glen Grant is one of the rare large distilleries with its bottling hall on site.

Photo by S8z11

Okay, history lesson complete.

Hints about what I'm reviewing? I'm glad you asked. Without spoiling too much, I can say that all, or at least most, of these Glen Grants were distilled in direct-fired stills. Most of the whiskies have been matured in bourbon casks. But not all. The biggest question may be: "Will there be any floor-maltings-era old G&M Glen Grant?"

You bet your gorgeous ass there will be.

I'm emptying the stables. Drinking the......horses? But just be patient. We'll start in the 1990s tomorrow.

The Glen Grants:

1. Glen Grant 13 year old 1993 James MacArthur Old Masters, cask 121926 - "I'm not sure one could ask for much more out of a 13 year old bourbon barrel Speysider."
2. Glen Grant 16 year old 1992 Cellar Reserve (OB) - "So, Glen Grant can be a fighter."
3. Glen Grant 17 year old 1995 Duncan Taylor Dimensions, cask 85122 - "...the cuddliest one so far. The spirit seems lighter than the other two..."
4. Glen Grant 20 year old 1992 Whisky-Fässle - "...fruity but balanced, quite drinkable. No weird oak notes."
5. Glen Grant 20 year old 1992 Maltbarn, Release 12 - "The sherry and oak are nearly absent, which can be a great thing, but in this instance the cask seems almost neutral/inactive."
6. Glen Grant 22 year old 1992 Single Malts of Scotland, cask 35936 - "The smoky, earthy element brings a complexity missing from almost all of the other five GGs."

Assessing the Glen Grant cluster at the halfway point

7. Glen Grant 25 year old 1988 SMWS 9.84 - "...who knows what happened with this cask, but I couldn't find any Glen Grant within."
8. Glen Grant 12 year old, bottled in the 1970s - "...the quality here, at this age, at this strength, is remarkable and baffling."
9. Glen Grant 25 year old Royal Wedding Reserve, bottled in 1981 - "Subtle and comfy, it's the sort of whisky I could picture drinking way too much of while grilling in the evening."
10. Glen Grant 36 year old 1967 Sherry Wood from Scott's Selection - "...musty dunnage, dusty old books and ultra-nutty sherry......[A] swirl of guava and yuzu juices..."
11. Caperdonich 38 year old 1972 Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask 7460 - "Mmmmmmmango on the nose......ginger candy, cardamom, blood oranges and candied yuzu peel."
12. Glen Grant 50 year old 1958 Gordon & MacPhail - "This whisky was a thrill, and I was happy to set it free."
13. Glen Grant 56 year old 1955 Gordon & MacPhail - "...reads like an excellent sherried whisky half its age but with just a bit more bite..."

Concluding the cluster 

--MacLean, Charles. Whiskypedia. A Compendium of Scotch Whisky. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.
--Ronde, Ingvar (Ed.). Malt Whisky Yearbook 2021. Shropshire, UK: MagDig Media. 2020