The Glen Grant isn’t a stranger to the whisky world, and in the recent past its popularity has bubbled, lapping up a lot more fan following with Jim Murray’s scores only adding on to the fame and accolades. It is hard being unbiased when someone comes with a grand score two years in a row, and when that person is Murray himself it becomes all the more difficult. Be it a good tuple or bad dram, I wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity to give this 18 a shot, especially once having met eyes with it at the local store.
James ‘Major’ Grant inherited the distillery from his father James Grant Sr and his uncle, John Grant who jointly founded the establishment in 1840. The Major was responsible for introducing many firsts at the distillery- electric lights and more famously purifiers that were paired with the distilleries’ signature tall, slender pot stills. These water cooled purifiers by their very design allowed for lighter vapours and more volatile spirits to pass through to the condenser while heavier distillates were reintroduced into the wash/spirit stills to be distilled once again. The resulting spirit was not only light and subtle but also floral and non-oily.
The packaging combines regality with simplicity – hard cardboard boxing with sharp contours on one side, a sort of blue-grey spanning much of the box with pale straw shades in and around the edges. Nestled inside the box is the bottle, which fits snugly into the plastic molding. The glass casing tapers from the shoulders down, widening at the base, the broad chest sporting the Glen Grant Logo – an tribute to its makers : James Grant and his wife Rose.
ABV : 43%
Eye : Pale Gold | Chill filtered with possible caramel colouring, albeit very minimal (if any).
Nose : Honey, caramel toffee and malted barley with hints of peat and earthy oak infused with dark raisins. Fruity and floral, almost similar to nail-paint thinners; cantaloupe with noticeable traces of orange zest, kiwi and pineapples and spicy tinges of nutmeg and ginger.
Taste : Barley and cream accompanied by sweet pastry with melon mousse filling, a brown sugar drizzle and bits of dried apricots and red apples. Hints of bitterness from dark chocolate shavings, with some dampness from moist charred wood.
Finish : Medium; mild cantaloupe with orange zest accompanied with a touch of warmth.
The Glen comes to me as a rounded expression, which with time evolves into a lighter, crispier spirit. The nose and the palate are equally interesting and very traditionally Speyside – floral, subtle and fruity. The ex bourbon cask maturation with time has brought balance to the whisky giving it typical tropical flavours and layers of sweetness that balance each other nicely. But having said that, personally I would have adored a bit more breadth, maybe if the whisky were finished in a port or sherry cask perhaps? Or maybe matured for longer as it somehow lacks the aura of an older whisky.
The 18 is a good whisky, no doubt but comes to me as one of those expressions that needs to be given more time to self develop. Lacking whisky greatness, personally this Glen Grant 18 falls short of being ‘shot of the year’!