First up, I’d like to wish everyone a very Blessed and Merry Christmas! Hopefully this day is spent in the company of family and friends, while enjoying good conversations, great food and even a stellar dram or three.
This week’s review focuses on a dram from an illustrious distillery which has been experiencing a resurgence of late after a change of ownership. That distillery is Glen Grant.
Before we proceed, here’s a bit of interesting trivia: At one point in history, there were TWO Glen Grant distilleries located a few hundred metres apart from one another.
While the original Glen Grant was founded in 1840, the other distillery was founded in 1898 and ran until 1902, when it was mothballed for 63 years before being refurbished and reopened under the name Caperdonich.
The distillery continued production until 2002, when it was mothballed once again and then finally closed for good before being demolished in 2010.
At one point in time, a pipe was constructed which connected Caperdonich to Glen Grant and made for easy transfer of spirit between both distilleries. It is also interesting to note that both distilleries were once owned by Chivas Brothers (and by extension, Pernod Ricard).
Even though Glen Grant was established in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant, it wasn’t until 1872 that the distillery began its upward trajectory and this period coincided with the arrival of John Grant’s nephew, James ‘The Major’ Grant.
The Major was seen to be an innovator, socialiser and traveller of some repute and he wasn’t afraid to put new ideas into practice to test them out. As a result, Glen Grant was the first distillery to have electric light and The Major was the first to own a car in the Highlands.
However, the most significant innovation that The Major put in place at Glen Grant has to do with the stills. He introduced the tall and slender stills and purifiers which in turn created the fresh, malty flavour and clear colour that is the hallmark of Glen Grant whiskies to this very day.
The brand also became a force to be reckoned with in the 1960s when it was widely marketed with a 5 year old age statement by Glen Grant’s Italian distributor, the legendary Armando Giovinetti.
Giovinetti succeeded in selling more than 12000 cases of Glen Grant 5 Years Old to Italy on a consistent basis and was single-handedly responsible for the brand becoming the most popular in the country. In fact, it is not uncommon to find bottles of the 5 Years Old expression at some bars in Italy.
It is believed that the brand’s success and popularity in Italy was one of the main reasons behind Grupo Campari’s purchase of the distillery back in December 2005 and the brand has definitely gone from strength to strength over the last decade under Italian ownership.
The distillery has an annual production capacity of up to 6.2 million litres of pure alcohol, but currently produces for only 34 weeks of the year, racking up an impressive production total of 4.4 million litres of pure alcohol during that time on an annualised average basis.
The focus of today’s review would be the Glen Grant 10 Years Old, which is seen as the entry level expression from the distillery (apart from their Major’s Reserve NAS expression).
The 10 Years Old expression was matured in ex-bourbon casks full term, although it is not known if the casks are first fill or refill (although my gut instinct seems to point at the latter).
Well, let’s get on with the tasting, shall we?
Glen Grant 10 Years Old (40% abv)
Colour: Pale gold
Nose: Initial entry presents citrus notes reminiscent of lemon drops and grapefruits, before green apples and some peaches emerge. The underlying barley aroma is fresh and sweet, intermingling beautifully well with the fruits.
With time, some grass and heather notes appear, although the fruity note is still the dominant factor and with the green apples and peaches having taken on a more pronounced aroma. Very clean and enticing nose. (21/25)
Palate: Initial entry is sweet and malty, a typical “Speyside Light” malt with the citrus elements as well as the green apples and peaches transferring from the nose onto the palate. There is a slightly spicy edge to this, hinting at some aniseed.
With time, the maltiness becomes slightly more pronounced, with barley sugar and whisps of smoke emerging. There’s also a nutty edge to this dram, with roasted macadamias and hazelnuts coming to mind. (21/25)
Finish: The finish is medium to long in length, with the nuttiness and maltiness from the palate combining well to give this dram a rather intense feel.
The fruits have taken a back seat towards the end, but they linger in the background as a reminder of the progress this dram has undergone across the length of this tasting. (20/25)
Balance: Quite a well balanced dram, with the fruity, malty and nutty notes combining quite nicely with one another along with a small pinch of spice to liven things up further. Very more-ish and easily drinkable dram!
I feared that the relatively low abv of 40% might stunt the whisky somewhat, but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed that it has managed to retain its flavoursome nature even at such a low abv. (22/25)
I purchased a bottle of this at Duty Free on my way to Bali almost 3 weeks ago and enjoyed this immensely. My mate purchased a bottle of Auchentoshan Springwood but that lay pretty much forgotten by the end of our first drinking session later that night.
I’m quite impressed with the work that Glen Grant has done over the years, and this present arrangement with owners Grupo Campari can only bear fruit for them over the long term.
Until the next time, have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!