Duncan Taylor Glen Grant 1974 36 year old


I’m always delighted to be faced with any Glen Grant especially an example from the early 1970’s that represents a boom time for the industry as a whole.  Just the previous year, Glen Grant increased its stills to 6 before increasing that number again in 1977 to an impressive 10 in total. This was representative of the demand for whisky as a whole; distilleries were levelled and rebuilt wherever possible, or extensions and improvements instigated to improve efficiency.

Whenever I’m faced with a whisky from a bygone era, I like to consider the status of the distillery at the time of distillation. Were the floor maltings still in operation? Could the stills have been direct fired? Did the distillery use condensers or worm tubs during this period? All this and more, as it improves my knowledge and understanding of how such changes affect what may sit in front of me today. On the flipside it sets the agenda and forces you to appreciate a mere liquid that is more than what is seems.

Glen Grant has always been a survivor and to this day whilst recognisable, the name isn’t one you see too much on the shelves apart from specialist retailers. In Italy its popularity ensures its everywhere thanks to its Italian owners long standing prominence in this market. It’s one of the few distilleries that has its own bottling facility and it’s a rarity nowadays to see such a feature along with the fact that the spirit isn’t shipped off to a central point. A difficult line to deliver for many a distillery tour guide is trying to explain how the spirit is shipped off in tankers to be filled into casks in central Scotland, only then for a small percentage to be returned to the distillery for maturation, or the welcome bottle your own option. Somehow this fact doesn’t sit well with all the self-sufficient and efficiencies you hear during several tours.

There’s a comforting and welcome aspect to a bottle a whisky that has spent its life maturing where it was distilled in a traditional environment. The brutal truth is likely to be its matured hundred of miles away in a soulless and stadium sized warehouse that uses more modern stacked methods. Yet for advertising and portraying the historical image, marketing will always adopt the more tradition line. Old Pulteney - I’m just highlighting one at random as there are plenty of offenders - enjoys using the photographs of a traditional dunnage style warehouse. Yet if you’ve visited the distillery and toured some of the warehousing you’ll know that due to the limited space, the casks are stacked as high as possible and reach into the sky.

Change isn’t necessarily always needed or for the better. It’s only upon reflection and the passing of time that we can sit back and take an informed viewpoint. Glen Grant to answer my initial questions moved away from coal fired prior to the distillation of this whisky, the worm tubs were also removed in favour of condensers and the water driven rummager was dispatched several years prior. The maltings closed in 1964 and the seeds of modernisation were planted. They were well and truly embedded and prospering by the time this whisky was distilled in 1974. Still, I know from experience how sublime a Glen Grant from this era can be.

This particular sample was solicited from WhiskyLifeStyle along with the marvellous photograph. Bottled by Duncan Taylor in 2011, this Glen Grant was distilled in November 1974 and left to mature for 36 years in cask number 16560. Forming part of their Rare Auld series, 204 bottles were extracted from the cask at a healthy 52.4% strength and you’ll have to search the secondary market to find a bottle nowadays.

Colour: buttery
On the nose: initially beeswax dominates before this gives way to white chocolate and woody notes. There melon and green apples with caramel and a buffed redness from polishing that apple. A slight note of cherry and a touch of rose. With water this develops more fruit including grapefruit, almonds and mustard seed.
In the mouth: a little smoke from the off, a peppery feel with milk chocolate, a bitter vanilla and a touch of alcohol. Water loosens this Glen Grant up nicely, resulting in a more rounded, buttery dram with apples and all-spice.

Conclusions: a well rounded and leisurely Glen Grant. Graceful but poised and if I was to score this it'd be 7/10 and a fitting way to end Whisky Rover. Here's to new adventures! 

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