Whisky Review #102: Glen Grant 1954 59 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail Rare Vintage sample)

Glen Grant is one of those distilleries which has garnered a large number of fans, primarily due to their history as well as their current practices. The whiskies that the distillery currently produces can be seen as gentle and yet complex, and yet the whiskies that they’re famous for possess similar characteristics but in different proportions.

The distillery has had a longstanding Italian connection which stretches back to the 1960s when the legendary Italian importer, Armando Giovinetti, was so impressed by the distillery’s produce that he secured the rights to distribute the whisky in Italy. Needless to say, sales of Glen Grant exploded and it became the best-selling single malt brand in the country for many years.

This also led Campari to launch a takeover bid for the distillery in the early years of the new millennium and under Italian control, the distillery and the brand has grown from strength to strength in new markets while ensuring that they kept themselves competitive with periodic changes to their core range.

However, it is the older expressions of Glen Grant that garner the most interest and nostalgia, primarily due to just how good they were (and still are). While it is becoming more difficult and expensive to acquire whiskies from bygone eras, we must be thankful for the foresight of some of the independent bottlers on the market for purchasing casks of these extraordinary whiskies back then.

One such example would be Gordon & MacPhail, who are known for their impressive inventory of aged stock which reside within their warehouses. It is testament to their foresight that they are able to consistently release expressions with an advanced age statement (Mortlach 75 Years Old, anyone?) from stocks which were laid down at the cusp of World War 2 and after.

As we have previously delved into the history of the distillery, we will not revisit it and the information can be found here: Glen Grant

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This week’s review focuses on one of those utterly impressive expressions from the Gordon & MacPhail inventory and it is a sample which was sent by the company to me for review purposes.

I must admit that I am eternally grateful to have tried an expression as old and dignified as this and it is now the oldest whisky that I have ever sampled in terms of distillation year and age.

This expression also recently picked up the Double Gold award at the prestigious San Francisco World Sprits Competition (SFWSC), which is also the highest honour awarded at the competition.

This expression was distilled on the 24th of April 1954, matured in a first-fill sherry puncheon (cask #1822) for 59 years before being bottled at 40% abv on the 3rd of February 2014 by Gordon & MacPhail with a yield of 610 bottles for their Rare Vintage collection.

So, let’s dive right into the review!

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Glen Grant 1954 59 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail Rare Vintage sample)

Glen Grant 1954 59 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail “Rare Vintage”, 40% abv)

Colour: Burnished copper

Nose: Initial entry presents a whack of acetone followed by dense sherry, sherried raisins, a trio of stewed plums, apricots and peaches as well as black pepper. With time, oak, cinnamon, a touch of rancio and musk, worn leather, tobacco pouch and cigar ash emerge. Late developing hints of cigar leaves and berry compote complete the full nose. (23/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents more of the rich dense sherry coupled with a touch of acetone, the stewed fruits from the nose as well as mulled wine. The rancio and musk hints then follow and are complemented by worn leather, tobacco pouch and a slight meatiness.

Black pepper, cinnamon, oak and cigar leaves emerge later on and there is a slight bitterness which provides a rather interestinge edge to the palate that is rather endearing. (23/25)

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with vestigial hints of the stewed fruits combining with the black pepper, oak, cinnamon, sherry and cigar leaves to give this expression a bittersweet end. (22/25)

Balance: An incredibly well-balanced and immensely enjoyable representation of a Glen Grant from a bygone era. While it is not overly complex, it possesses a veritable treasure trove of aromas and flavours which will surely intrigue and excite the senses. The mouthfeel starts off oily but quickly becomes drying due to the oak and wood spices exerting a rather pronounced influence. (23/25)

Rating: 91/100

If anything, this was an exceptional throwback to a bygone era when the marriage between spirit and sherry was at a different level altogether. While we are still able to find spirits of this calibre in some modern expressions, they are increasingly difficult to obtain and so we must be content with savouring what we can get.

Special thanks must go to Gordon & MacPhail for providing me with this rare and exceptional opportunity to sample and review this incredible expression and I am eternally grateful.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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