Cadenhead Glen Grant 1985 31-year-old


It’s not often I have the opportunity to write about Glen Grant. This isn’t through choice as the distillery is capable of some stunning whiskies and auction bargains if you know where to look. In today’s climate it is fairly unassuming and content to go about its own business without fanfare, over exuberant marketing or pricing.

The April outturn from Cadenheads harboured many temptations including the 11-year-old Ledaig I’ve just reviewed and the 31-year-old Potter Distilling Company; Indian corn creating a Canadian whisky? Then there were others, but I’m trying to avoid visiting the Edinburgh shop. One that did stick out was Glen Grant as I know from experience it has a wonderful symmetry when combined with a sherry butt. The Macallan may hark on about their wood management and greatness with sherry casks, but Glen Grant can deliver a knockout blow when aroused.

Established in 1840, Glen Grant is today owned by the Campari Group Speyside and is hugely popular in Italy, being the biggest selling malt in that market. I wouldn’t have believed it myself but a recent trip confirmed the abundance of whisky on the shelves was indeed Glen Grant, with the 5-year-old proving particularly affordable, light and an easy drinker in the warmer climate. However, it’s those sherried examples from bygone eras and the distinctive square shaped bottles that harbour a series of delights.

This whisky would have set you back around £145 upon release or thereabouts. It was highlighted by many and unsurprisingly sold out upon release. Certainly the bottle share I organised this month for a handful of Cadenhead releases, this was by far the most popular purchase. Just enough left in the bottle for me to enjoy a couple of drams and then it was all over. Bottled at 44.8% strength with an outturn of 312 bottles, it’s natural coloured and no messing around with filters. Glen Grant at its most natural and now time to reflect why I don’t purchase more from this distillery.

Colour: dark chocolate
Nose: a wonderful thrust of vanilla and rum soaked raisins. Dark chocolate gingers and surprising layer of creaminess that with the nutty aspect is simply a walnut whip. Honey sweetness, orange peel and spent matchsticks follow before sweet cinnamon, treacle, brown sugar and marzipan. It’s great to peel away the layers on this nose with plenty of fun to be had.
Taste: very refined and a lovely texture with memories of a rich dark chocolate oozing across the palate. A hint of ginger, those bourbon biscuits a passing thyme note in the background. Blackberries add more richness with more brown sugars and treacle. A decent and strong black tea finish and Fry’s chocolate creams.

Overall: in some ways this tastes like an old 60s or 70s distillate that’s just been given time to do its own thing in the cask. You can feel the age and appreciate. There’s a lovely harmony with the cask and just enough distillery character coming through. Now, if I just had the time to seek out further whiskies from Glen Grant...

Whisky Rover

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