Glen Grant’s stills are most peculiar in their shape, as the wash stills have a straight reflux “ball” – with vertical sides, and the spirit stills have a rather subdued reflux ball, which seems to be compensated for by the purifiers sported by each still.
Glen Grant’s history is full of colorful characters, famous of them all is The Major, John Grant, who ran the distillery for some six decades, from 1872 to 1931. In the previous whisky boom, in the late Victorian period, he built a replica distillery right across the road in Rothes, mothballed after just a few years, and kept that way until 1965, when it was reopened as Caperdonich, only to be finally shut down in 2002.
Glen Grant’s home market is Italy, and it’s still the most widely sold single malt in the country, and was – fittingly – bought by Campari Group in 2006, although today’s dram predates the sale by over two decades, and takes us back to the time when Chivas Brothers were still owned by Seagram’s.
Douglas Laing has glorious casks in warehouses all over Scotland, and the best of those get hand picked for the XOP range. I have yet to taste an XOP bottling that was less the stellar, and this one is no different. This is a 1985 Glen Grant, aged 30 years in a refill hogshead with an astonishing alcohol content of 59.1%. The hogshead produced only 36 bottles.
Glen Grant 30 Year Old, Douglas Laing XOP, Distilled July 1985, Bottled December 2015, Hogshead #11009, 36 Bottles (59.1% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Copper, very slow droplets and a lot of residue in the glass.
Nose: Oak and vanilla, honey and a hint of licorice. There’s also another kind of sweetness in there, maybe more sugar. The nose has an oaky dryness to it. Water enhances the oaky dryness of the whisky, and brings out a hint of pepper.
Palate: Apples, oaky wood spices, hint of licorice and marshmallow, with notes of vanilla. On the second sip, the vanilla is stronger as is the sweetness. Water brings out a dry tartness and some black pepper.
Linger: Green fruit on the tongue, with spice high in the throat, and some of that bourbonesqe sweet notes. After water, the linger is clearly spicier, with the spice concentrating in the mouth, and in a much lesser degree, in the gullet.
Remarkable after 30 years in cask. Dignified and very complex, yet very balanced and consistent. Great whisky.