*Sincere thanks to DK at Exposure PR for the sample!
“Major” James Grant (he earned the title of “Major” by serving in the local Rifle Volunteers, a citizen’s army of the time) was the son of Glen Grant co-founder James Grant, who with his brother, John, founded the famous distillery in 1840. James jr. inherited the distillery and the brand in 1872 after his father and uncle had passed away, and thanks to a larger-than-life personality and a willingness to adopt the latest technologies, drove Glen Grant to become one of the most popular whiskies of the day. He was one of the first Highlanders to own a motorcar, installed electric lights in the distillery (the first to do so), and was among the first to use drum maltings. He also was responsible for the tall, relatively slender stills which, in turn, are responsible for the light, crisp, fruity malt the brand is known for. When he wasn’t leading Glen Grant down the road to success, he traveled world hunting big game and winding his way through at least three marriages with varying degrees of success.
Major James Grant was also behind the planning of the Victorian garden on the distillery property where, somewhere, legend has it, there is a safe in which the Major would keep a bottle and glasses on hand to serve special guests. I’m guessing it is this story that’s behind Glen Grant’s The Major’s Reserve. I suppose the “reserve” in Major’s Reserve could also refer to his unmatched self-restraint, but from the little I’ve read, “restraint” wasn’t usually an adjective associated with the man. This single malt is Glen Grant’s entry-level expression, a no-age-statement bottling that’s been available in Europe for a few years and is now finally making an appearance on US shelves.
The Nose: A calm yet crisp, somewhat simple nose with honey, peach, and under-ripe pineapple standing out the most. Light malt notes, toasted almonds, and slightly spirity hints of wet hay further back.
The Palate: Thinly oily mouthfeel with more honey initially, perhaps just a touch of stone fruit, and quickly augmented by vanilla bean and roasted nuts. This progresses nicely into some youthful wood spice notes, a nice, mouthwatering “acidity” with a touch of clove, grippy, resinous pine, and baker’s chocolate.
The Finish: Mostly, those late spice notes carry over from the palate, and while they’re not running for the door, they don’t really hang around too long either.
Thoughts: Light, simple, and refreshing, this one is definitely a malt for the warmer parts of the year. The relatively simple nose doesn’t leave much of an impression but the Major gains some momentum as it rolls along. It may be cliché to say, but this would be another good intro/training wheels Scotch to pour someone who thinks Scotch is too strong/smoky/etc. This works nicely over ice, smoothing out the slight spirity quality, and I can see it working well in cocktails requiring a lighter whisky flavor. Not an earth-shattering dram by any measure, but at around $25 – $30, this is a decent value.
Glen Grant The Major’s Reserve, Speyside