The realm of whisky auctions can be an intimidating and expensive climate to venture into. It’s only an arena that you can work effectively navigate through experience or the assistance of a more knowledgeable colleague. With more and more investors and newbies stepping into this field, prices are ramping up as demand and supply become intertwined like a sinister Morris dance.
There are bargains to be had if you know how to play the game and set a realistic limit. Once that threshold is breached always walk away if only to reconsider if the auction lot is one you really need and is therefore worth the premium? A recent bargain was the 21 year old Glencadam that I picked up for almost half of the normal retail price. The bashed packaging would deflect investors and collectors who demand pristine condition and the distillery isn’t fashionable so fleeting bidders would overlook Glencadam. If you look between the cracks quite often there are bargains and these can take the form of job lots where a couple of bottles of minor value have been collated together. In essence I do feel these job lots are a mistake as I may want to purchase one of the trio but then become lumbered with the additional cost of two bottles; the hammer price and then postage.
This Glen Grant comes from such a lot and is a generic example of what to expect. Far from pristine condition and the labels have certainly seem better days. The fill level has also shown some signs of age and bottles that exhibit even lower levels are ideal for opening and drinking. You can only reduce further exposure with parafilm tape but once the fill level drops and oxygen inhibits the space then the damage is underway. Better to open and experience the whisky before it decays any further and loses all of its character. In general low fill bottles are ideal for opening and experiencing.
Bottles such as these are difficult to date as sadly not every distillery puts the year as a season such as Knockando. Instead we’re left to use what clues exist such as the bottle style (rectangle), the lack of a bar code and UK tax stickers. The labelling style can also assist and here we have an Italian paper tax seal which my friends tell me was used from the 1960’s onwards. However these can be misleading as some regional offices continued to use the wrong seals just to use up stock. We know Glen Grant switched to the more modern style of bottling in the 1980’s and bottled at various ages around this vintage including 8, 10 and 12 in the 1970’s. This style of 10 year old at the slightly higher strength (43% rather than 40%) would place this example in the 1970’s, which is about as specific as we’ll hope to pin it down. Every aspect can be used as a tool to highlight a date of issue including the type of seal and bottle stopper. I’d always suggest examining bottles closely and if something is out of place then use caution, as the number of fakes is growing. These tend to be very good or mint (too good to be true) examples which is far from the case for this 10 year old.
I recently reviewed an old style Balblair right here and was pleasantly surprised by its contents and this Glen Grant formed part of that original job lot. I asked Linh (Whisky Anorach) to do the honours and open this bottle a couple of months ago. We enjoyed a dram and even at that early stage any doubts about the fill level and its impact on the whisky evaporated (sorry) upon tasting. Now I envisage this Glen Grant has settled in the bottle and we can delve further in this review.
Distillery: Glen Grant
Age: 10 years old (bottled in the 1970s)
Additional: matured in oak casks
Colour: glowing embers from a dying fire
Nose: immediately I'm experiencing that old whisky smell you just don't experience nowadays. There's nothing immediate or bold up front. It's compact and lovely in its poise and sweetness. Vanilla fudge that's it! At the back the wood comes through with its spicy aspect. Plenty of juicy raisins, crushed red grapes and chestnuts. A little leather and orange - very cheeky!
Taste: extremely light and fresh on the palate with a gorgeous sustained finish with pepper and a touch of bitterness. Going back it feels as if I'm licking a book shelf with orange popori on either side. Dusty worn leather, vanilla, citrus touches and those chestnuts are making a comeback. I'm also thinking of a very light, refined black tea so subtle, refreshing and engaging.
A very enjoyable old style whisky that doesn't scream alcohol or young age; just well conceived and executed.
Labels: 1970s, glen grant, review, whisky