Even though I really like Speyside whiskies, Glen Grant isn’t a brand I would choose very often. It is a little bit too light for me. But from time to time I find a bottle that I want to try, albeit mainly from independent bottlers – as I think independent bottlers sometimes outperform the distilleries when they pick a cask they want to bottle. And so I bought a bottle of this Glen Grant 1985, which is bottled by Murray McDavid. But let’s talk about Glen Grant itself for a moment.
It may not feel like it, but Glen Grant is actually one of the best-selling whisky brands in the world. It isn’t just popular everywhere as, for example, Glenfiddich is. But it’s extremely successful in Southern Europe, in countries like France, Spain and especially in Italy. The light and fresh character seems to work very well in the warmer parts of Europe.
But how got this brand so big in the first place? Well, back in the days this distillery owed most of its success to innovations.
Glen Grant, named after his founders James and John Grant, was established in 1840. The brothers built a very modern and large distillery for that time. But it was the son of James (James ‘the Major’ Grant), who took over the distillery in 1872, and who brought it to the level where it is now. He built another distillery on the other side of the road, named Glen Grant 2 (later Caperdonich), to expand the business. And before the end of the 19th century, Glen Grant was not only available in Europe, but also in Africa, Australia and the US. Glen Grant became one of the first proper whisky brands and it was the first distillery with a single malt whisky.
But that was not all. Glen Grant was also the first distillery to have electric lighting – installed by ‘the Major’ himself. He also designed the famously long and slender stills with the purifiers, which gave Glen Grant the distinctive fresh and light flavour that it still has today. When ‘the Major’ died in 1931, the distillery had become one of the most famous in the world – and it’s been that way ever since.
Anyway, enough talking about the history of Glen Grant. Let’s start with the whisky itself. This 21 year old Glen Grant was distilled in 1985 and was matured in an ex-bourbon cask, before being bottled at an impressive 57.8% ABV. There were 960 available.
Glen Grant 1985 Murray McDavid – Review
Colour: acacia honey.
On the nose: That typical Speyside fruitiness to begin with. Oranges, pears. A bit of wood and a hint of malt. Cinnamon. A layer of honey. Vanilla and mocha. And some heather too. This is quite nice! With water: Boom fruit galore! More of the oranges, some citrus, apples and pears.
In the mouth: Oranges, mocha and a slightly bitter edge from black coffee. A pinch of salt. With water: Green apples, pineapple, oranges. Some honey. A hint of cinnamon. And a combination of spices that I can’t define. The finish is mid-long. Also with coffee notes, which disappears after water it down. More fruits, yes the oranges again and the pineapples too. It is somewhat spicy.
A very nice Glen Grant with a bit of a bite. Although not overly complex, I really enjoyed this one. It’s better with water, in my opinion, then it really opens up.