A Glen Grant Trio


Glen Grant is not a brand I'm over familiar as when thinking about official bottlings, it was a brand I associated with the independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail with their heavily sherried offerings that ranged from their Distillery Labels expressions starting with an 11 year old that cost around £50 moving on to extremely aged expressions that were 40 years plus and costing thousands. 

Hailing from Rothes, Banffshire this Speysider was until 2002 the biggest selling single malt in the world after Glenfiddich. How did that happen? Well let's look go through a bit of their history.

Set up in 1840 by brothers James and John Grant who run the distillery until 1872 when, after both John and James have passed away (1864 and 1872 respectively), James junior or as he was know Major James Grant inherits the distillery. Major Grant decides to build Glen Grant no.2 which begins production in 1897 but is mothballed in 1902.

Major Grant dies in 1931 and passes the distillery on to his grandson Major Douglas Mackessack. A major change in operations occurs in 1953 when J & J Grant merges with George and J. G. Smith (owners of Glenlivet) to form the Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distillers limited.

International fame arose in 1961 when Italian Armando Giovinetti visits the distillery. He loves what he sees so much he persuades Mackessack to appoint him as Glen Grant agent for Italy. It becomes the biggest selling single malt in Italy and remains so to this day.

This is (sadly for Glen Grant I'd wager) not true worldwide. Previous owners of the brand Chivas Brothers and Pernod Ricard chose to prioritise using Glen Grant in their blends over marketing the brand as a single malt. At present Glen Grant is the 9th biggest selling malt in the world (still no mean feat) with new owners Campari pushing the envelope more with the brand as a single malt although it is still used in the Old Smuggler blended Scotch brand. Even though it has relatively high sales it's likely, especially among whisky enthusiasts, that Glen Grant is unlikely to be among their own top 10 single malt brands. 

Glen Grant has quite a wide range of malts on offer now on their website starting with the Arborlis, a non age statement malt that is impossible to buy online anywhere it seems. Age statement wise we have a 10, 12, 15, 18 and 21 year old range.

Today however I'm looking at the now discontinued 16 year old that I bough from Fairleys Wines in Coleraine ages ago for around £45 I believe plus a couple of well aged samples from Duncan Taylor and Cadenhead's.

Glen Grant 16 year old 43%

Nose: Very fruit forward - all the orchard fruits - apples, pears, a hint of peach. Juicy fruit gum. Some orange peel. Malt and some aniseed too. Muted oak and some nutmeg.

Palate: Quite thin on the mouthfeel. Sweet like the nose - vanilla ice cream, honey, fresh ripe apple and conference pears. Almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg. Just a hint of cocoa powder too.

Finish: Short to medium with candied apples, mild spice and oak tannins.

Score: 5 out of 10

Duncan Taylor The Octave 1995 Glen Grant 20 year old 47.7%

Nose: There is an earthy, mossy funk to this that greets you immediately. Stewed autumn fruits - blackberries, damsons and apples. Some citrus zest plus toasted nuts. Cardamon and turmeric. Milk chocolate.

Palate: A muted palate which feels a little uninspiring to be honest. Vanilla cream, fresh apples, pears and stewed blackberries. Praline and chocolate. Mild pepper heat and toasted oak.

Finish: Quite short with the orchard fruit continuing along with woody spice.

Score: 4 out of 10

Cadenhead's 1989 Glen Grant-Glenlivet 24 year old Small Batch 55.5%

Nose: Honey, vanilla, lemon cheesecake, beeswax. Almond paste, cardamon. A white coffee. Stewed apples. Even a hint of blackberry.

Palate: Much like the nose - icing sugar, crème anglaise, vanilla, apple, peach, lemon zest and some white pepper.

Finish: Medium length with sweet orchard fruit, icing sugar and pepper heat.

Score: 6 out of 10

Overall: A fair to middling experience had with these drams truth be told. All drinkable but none really memorable. The 16 year old suffered from a lack of abv so body wise it was lacking. It's a simple, straight forward summer dram. Easy to sip but it won't get your pulse racing.

The Duncan Taylor Octave was a bit of a let down to be honest. There was very limited flavour development with the nose offering more than the palate. In all honesty the sherried octave seemed to have had a limited impact.

Finally, the Cadenhead's 24 year old was the best of the trio. Simple but well balanced between nose and palate and really quite drinkable. Water wasn't needed. Again perfect summer evening dramming, sip, enjoy and don't think about it too much. 

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