...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Glen Grant 12 year old, bottled in the 1970s

The contemporary portion of this Glen Grant series is now over, having ended on a bitter note. The cluster now leaps back to the distillation days before Seagram's took over, but after the Grants merged with Glenlivet Distillers. All the stills were direct-fired with coal back in these days. Hundreds of thousands of cases of five year old Glen Grant were being sold in Italy, and the Gordon & MacPhail company was filling sherry casks with the Rothes spirit for their own warehouses.

In fact, G&M and the distillery were using the same label design for their Glen Grant bottlings during this period. So I'll be honest, I don't know who bottled today's whisky.

The official 5yo used this same design, as did G&M's 15. And both companies used the blue-gray oval on their 12 year olds.

But I do know this mini was bottled in 1977 or earlier due to "U.S. Internal Rev." appearing on the American tax stamp. AND I know this is Glen Grant. So, Salute!

Distillery: Glen Grant
Region: Speyside (Rothes)
Ownership at time of distillation: The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distilleries
Age: at least 12 years
Maturation: ???
Bottling date: 1977 or earlier
Exported to: U.S.A.
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Oh. From the nose one could think this was well over 50%abv. It's enormous. Orange peels, peaches and lychees in a dunnage. Grapefruit and floral junmai sake. Wet wool, weed smoke, dried sage and spent motor oil. No, I did not dilute this.

A toffee sweetness meets bitter herbal liqueurs in the palate. Pumpernickel, yellow nectarines, soot, wasabi. Just a hint of metallic OBE. After 30 minutes, pears and grapefruits roll in. Maybe a touch of Cracker Jack.

Cigarettes, soil, wasabi and yellow nectarines linger and linger and linger in the finish.

I was unprepared for this. I mean, I had hoped it would be good. But the quality here, at this age, at this strength, is remarkable and baffling. My tasting notes are bit short here because I was so consumed by the whisky.

What have we lost?

Of course one could expand that question far beyond Glen Grant and whisky in general. But for this moment, I'm going to focus on single malt. Perhaps Springbank, Benromach or Ben Nevis could approach this style today. But at this age? I don't know. At this strength? Absolutely not. Beyond those three distilleries (or maybe even including them), single malt producers have changed barley sources, yeast strains, still-firing methods, filtration, cask management and cask storage in the past several decades. Is whisky even the same fluid it once was? I'm not saying all old whisky is better than current whisky. But there's nothing like this at 12 years and 43%abv anymore.

The old Glen Grant portion of this series starts strong.

Availability - Actually, this era's minis can still be found in auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 91