*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.
I’m not ashamed to admit that perhaps my favorite ride at Disney Land/World is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. No, sorry…scratch that, my favorite ride is Pirates of the Caribbean, hands down, though I liked it a lot more before Johnny Depp kept showing up all over the place. So Mr. Toad’s may not be my favorite, but it’s up there, mostly because I love the character of Mr. Toad from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, he’s loaded, reckless, well-dressed, and immensely loveable despite his potential danger to society…basically everything I’m not. In reading up on the history of Glen Grant, I came across a story about “Major” Grant, the nephew of one of the founders who inherited the distillery in 1872. Apparently, the Major was one of the first men in the region to have an automobile. Picturing this (by all accounts) highly social and independent spirit tearing around the highlands, probably wearing some kind of plaid, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Toad, though I’m sure Mr. Grant was far more responsible. Hell, he had to be, he was the one that insisted on the tall, elegant stills that made Glen Grant’s smooth, clean whisky so popular back then.
Glen Grant is still extremely popular today, believe it or not it’s the third largest producer of single malt Scotch in the world (after the little-known Macallan and Glenfiddich brands) and is the most popular single malt in Italy. This independent, from Ian MacLeod’s Chieftain’s line, was aged in a White Burgundy hogshead, bottled unchillfiltered and, I’m just guessing here, has no artificial coloring whatsoever.
The Nose: Light and floral…the bouquet of this one is definitely a bouquet. Soft notes of ripe pears, melon and fresh flowers with undertones of honey, orgeat syrup. Behind that, lots of soft, malty grain and just a touch of rubbery, smokey peat.
The Palate: Creamy mouthfeel with an initial soft, winey, grape skin sweetness followed by more roasted grain and salty roasted almonds. Mildly spicy with a nice swell of acidity at the end with a bit of smoke leading into the finish.
The Finish: Still relatively soft, the finish has a nice smokiness and residual saltiness.
Thoughts: Ok, first off, this is just about the palest whisky I’ve ever seen outside of the new make category. I know Glen Grant has a history of pale whiskies, but this is beyond…the…nevermind. The white burgundy cask certainly had some influence on the flavor, perhaps it also neutralized some of the colorizing agents of the wood as well? This is a very soft, yet rich dram, I really enjoyed the nose, the floral notes, sweet fruits and subtle grain, they worked very well together. The palate was slightly disjointed to me, partly because I think the saltiness overwhelmed the nice early wine notes a bit. That said, I liked the nutty saltiness, but it was perhaps a bit too much. Overall, a nice contemplative aperitif malt.
Chieftain’s 1997 Glen Grant 13 Year Old, Speyside, unchillfiltered