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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Birthday Malt Report: Glen Grant 34yr 1975 Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing)

My birthday bottle shared my birth year, but was technically younger than me.  [Ed.: Unless one considers the maturation time in the barrel to be the gestation period-- Blue Text, stop being a party pooper. Blue Text, out.]  So what was I to do?

I had to find a 34 year old.  Just a dram though, since I'm not made out of Dalmore/Macallan/Diageo-Special-Release money.  Thankfully, MoM (Master of Malt) had the solution.  There are barrels and barrels of decent old Glen Grant being held and released by the indie bottlers.  Usually they're comparatively affordable too.  MoM just happened to be selling a dram.

This one was purchased blindly, as none of my usual whisky reviewers had weighed in on it.  My Glen Grant experience had been limited, so why not start at the top?!

So I poured it alongside the Balblair 1978.  And waited.  And waited.

Waiting for, like, ever.
Once the half hour was up, I focused on the Balblair.  After half a dram of that one, I was struggling to pull out individual characteristics out of that smoothie.  So I decided to switch over to the Glen Grant.  That way I could compare and contrast.

They were very different.  Glen Grant was less smooth, a little odder.  But in a good way.  I like the difficult ones (unless they reek of dead flesh and/or go by the name of Cutty Sark).  This one was rougher around the edges, the spirit was still barking out through the long life cooped up in the hogshead.

From Master of Malt

Distillery: Glen Grant
Ownership: Campari
Bottler: Douglas Laing
Age: 34 years (April 1975 - November 2009)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chill filtered? No.
Caramel Coloring? No.
Limited Release: 278 bottles

The color is a little lighter than the Balblair; think Chardonnay with a little amber.  The first thing that hits in the nose is light peat floating in a swimming pool.  It's starts very spirity for an old malt, still holding onto some ethyl prickle.  Cocoa powder follows.  Then a chunk of toffee, vanilla extract, pear juice, and maple syrup.  It gets more oaky with time and the maple syrup gradually picks up force.  The palate begins with the same exact peat and pool combo. It's enjoyable to find a nose & palate that match up so closely.  The tannins can be a little drying.  Caramel sauce and vanilla follow, along with some ripe stone fruits soaked in brandy.  It finishes dry and strong.  Peat & cigarettes.  Kristen caught some dulce de leche and flan in there.  It's sweet, but fruity sweet.

Man, I love these old Highland/Speyside malts from back in the day when they did their own peated floor maltings.  It's peat, not PEAT.  The phenolics are seasoning, not the main dish.

While I don't promote smoking on this site, I can imagine that -- if you have the means -- this would match well with a smoke (tobacco, specifically) and a rich creamy dessert.

If you don't smoke, then this is good whenever, seriously.  If you own an old whisky, drink it, share it, celebrate it.  Our conscious lives are brief; delights are where we find them and where they find us.

Availability - UK & Europe only
Pricing - you'll have to do some snooping, but it should be in the $200 range
Rating - 93