...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Concluding the Glen Grant cluster

I unwittingly set myself up for trouble with this first cluster. Comparing the old 100% direct-fired Glen Grant spirit with the contemporary mixed- or steam-fired spirit seemed like a good approach, but of course it's not that simple. The older whiskies were in fact older, spending more years, or even decades, in oak before being bottled, resulting in longer, more complex interactions between the cask and spirit. That doesn't even factor in the number of sherry casks in the group: 2 out of 7 for the contemporary GGs versus 3+ out of 6 for the direct-fired GGs. And then there's the Caperdonich. Great job, me!

A fair amount of repetition was found among the more modern bottlings, perhaps due to less time in oak, or similar cask types, or just a narrower spirit. On the other hand, the oldies had nose and palate notes across the sensory spectrum, either due to more maturation time or a livelier, more expansive spirit. I'll still attempt to list the common notes for both groups below.

I made one more discovery, important to me personally. In my rough draft of this post, I wrote about how "citrus" was the only common note between both whisky eras. But despite being a Genus within the Plantae Kingdom, citrus isn't just one note to our noses and mouths. Grapefruits are not the same as limes, which are different than blood oranges, which ain't yuzu. So I'm going to blow up the whole citrus thing and refer to the specific fruits.

The most common tasting notes found:

1988-1995 distillate1955-1972 distillate

Apples - 5x
Barley - 4x
Florals - 4x
Peaches - 3x
Oranges - 3x
Yeast/wort - 3x

Peaches - 4x
Oranges - 3x
Candy - 3x
Yuzu - 2x
Florals - 2x
Dunnage - 2x
Honey - 2x

OBSERVATIONS: Hooray for peaches and oranges and flowers, the overlappers! Apple and barley notes, so prevalent in the more recent bottlings were absent from the older whiskies. Also, please note the happy lack of "vanilla" here.

1988-1995 distillate1955-1972 distillate

Pepper - 5x
Bitter herbs - 4x
Limes - 4x
Nuts - 4x
Apples - 3x
Mineral - 3x
Sweetness - 3x

Bitter herbs - 4x
Earth - 3x
Salt - 3x
Sweetness - 3x
Toffee - 3x
(seven others at 2x)

OBSERVATIONS: A wide variety of citrus appeared in the older segment but individual fruits didn't repeat much. Overall there was less lime, less pepper and probably less "nuts" (a category I should probably blow up next time too) in the older distillate. Very nice bitter herbal notes registered through both groups compared to very little bitter oak, probably 8 (herbs) versus 2 (oak).

1988-1995 distillate1955-1972 distillate

Bitter herbs - 4x
Mineral - 3x
Limes - 2x
Metal - 2x
Pepper - 2x

Bitter herbs - 3x
Tobacco - 3x
Grapefruits - 2x
Lemons - 2x
Smoke - 2x
Sweetness - 2x

As mentioned at the halfway point, there were not a lot of repeating notes across the finishes. Tobacco and smoke started to show up in the oldies, possibly due to sherry casks and mild peat levels. Each whisky, though, usually had its own unique finale.

I enjoyed drinking my way through indulging in this series. On the logistical level it was easy to plan and organize. The side-by-sides were logical, with the 25yo 1988 + the 12yo from the 1970s + the 25yo Royal Marriage Reserve taste off being the most educational. The 50 vs 56 wasn't half bad either. I embraced pretending I'm a baller blogger while also making a dent (or maybe a tap) in my sample stash. Most importantly, I didn't get sick of Glen Grant single malts, unlike the 16-part Ben Nevis series from which I am still recovering.

Next week will be cluster-free (huzzah!), instead filled with three reviews — two relevant and one irrelevant — before I set off on another cluster, one I've had in the works for a few years. Cheers!