Thursday, September 15, 2016
Review - Glen Grant 12 years old, 12 years old Non Chill-Filtered & 18 years old
These three new whiskies are the latest additions to the expanding single malt range of Glen Grant, the often unsung distillery in central Speyside. The new 12 years old and 18 years old expressions will join the current 10 years old in a revised domestic range, while the 12 years old Non Chill-Filtered will be available exclusively through the travel retail market. They have all been created by Dennis Malcolm, the legendary Master Distiller at Glen Grant.
Glen Grant is located in the small town of Rothes in the centre of the Speyside region of Scotland. The distillery was founded by James and John Grant in 1840, and the brothers decided to use their surname for the distillery name. Glen Grant remained in their direct ownership until 1872 when James died (John had died in 1864). The distillery was then inherited by James’ son, James Grant Jnr.
Glen Grant remained under the family ownership until Grant Jnr’s grandson, Major Douglas Mackessack, sold it to the Canadian group Seagrams in 1972. Following numerous subsequent takeovers, the Italian drinks company Gruppo Campari took control in 2006. They purchased the distillery and brand as it was popular in the Italian market and re-launched the single malt range in 2007. It is a large distillery with a current production capacity of six million litres per year.
The new 12 years old and 18 years old expressions are both bottled at 43% ABV and will be available through supermarkets and specialist whisky retailers. The recommended prices are £38 and £110 respectively. The 12 years old Non Chill-Filtered is bottled at 48% ABV and costs £40. All sport the new Glen Grant packaging, livery and logo.
Our tasting notes
The colour is pale golden yellow and the nose is filled with a lovely combination of vanilla, honey and fresh green apple. Underneath are hints of malted barley, cinnamon and stewed pears. On the palate this whisky is incredibly soft and gentle with the vanilla and honey notes particularly prominent again. The bittersweet barley and earthy cinnamon add depth, while there is plenty of green fruit as on the nose - think of apple and pear again, although the pear is more reminiscent of peardrop boiled sweets. Hints of ginger, custard powder, dried grass and dried apricot round things off very nicely. A great easy drinker.
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has an instant prickle and heat to it. Aromas of vanilla custard and stewed apples rise first and are joined by malty cereals, cinnamon, gingerbread and a hint of white pepper. On the palate there is an instant bittersweet malty quality that drives things. This is followed by softer honey, vanilla, toffee, cooked apple and butterscotch notes that are backed up by some robust spices - think of toasted oak, cinnamon, earthy ginger and a hint of liquorice. Water softens everything and brings out extra sweetness and vanilla notes. Packs a delicate punch.
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose is packed with aromas of vanilla, green apple, golden syrup and dried tropical fruits (especially pineapple). There is a background earthiness that is most reminiscent of baking spices, malt and ginseng. On the palate this feels viscous, velvety and classy. The intriguing earthy notes from the nose are never far away and add superb depth and complexity. There are plenty of juicy tropical fruits (mango and pineapple) and vanilla combining with green apples and pears. There are further hints of baking spices, ginger, white chocolate, praline and marshmallows. A decadent and superb whisky.
What's the verdict?
These three new expressions of Glen Grant are all very good and should help to bring the distillery to the attention of a much wider audience. It is about time in our view as we have always liked Glen Grant but it has suffered from very low key promotion in the past. The quality of the whiskies is high and they are pitched at decent prices, so if you like the lighter and softer style of whisky then you should definitely try them.
Which was our favourite? That's a tricky one - the 18 years old is exceptionally classy and very good, but for us it is the regular 12 years old. It offers is very easy drinking, great value for money and is in the classic Speyside mould.