What do you reveal for that one day of the year, when you’d be forgiven for not publishing an article? Well, you keep something special aside to celebrate the moment. To toast those who don’t subscribe to the whole concept of Santa, or the religious roots that have been smothered by the rampant consumerism.
Christmas for what its worth, has become a festering buy-it-all and hammer your savings and credit cards in the pursuit of what exactly? Personally, it’s the one day set aside for family, or at least it should be if you have such a thing nearby. I don’t really care for anything else, although having a baby in the house this year means it will certainly be different. The rest of it can take a run and jump, including the traditional Queen message that has become diluted and pushed aside by most of society.
Growing up, I remember its importance and how we gathered around the television to hear the words of wisdom for her majesty. It was a big thing for my nanna and traditions do persist until someone questions their logic. For a couple of years at MALT, I envisaged our Christmas message coming from Mark on a throne of tweed. He’s never bought into the idea; I believe for the fear of coming across like Prince Andrew, which is a valid concern. All of which, brings us nicely to this whisky that has an obvious royal family connection and could be deemed a special treat.
We don’t talk much about Glen Grant here and that’s a surprise seeing how big Jim has consistently given this distillery top honours annually since as long as we can remember. This might spark allegations around leaving treats for such plaudits, or as Adam more likely suggested, he’s the greatest exponent of copying and pasting. Something needs to change about these bible whisky shenanigans and I expect a few of you will be receiving the latest edition in your Christmas stocking – what you think of such a gift is entirely up to you.
It does however raise the question what is happening with Glen Grant? A classic Speyside distillery that for decades has access to an inventory that set itself apart from the rest. Whether this was by good fortune or impeccable business acumen, we’ll never know. However, the distillery is one of the most accessible if you do wish to go back through the decades and explore the impact of changes within the Scotch industry.
This has been assisted by the inventory of Gordon & MacPhail who put together this specific release to celebrate the royal marriage in 1981. The concept was to put together a malt consisting of whisky distilled in the years of the groom and bride’s birth. So, we have 1948 for Charles and Diana in 1961. The end result is a one-off release that was available as a full-sized bottle or this 5cl miniature, which I managed to pick up for a bargain £25. That is a bargain seeing what a 70cl release can fetch on the secondary market today.
There is something to be said for releasing miniatures. These give us the opportunity to experience rare and expensive whiskies without selling a kidney for medical research. Normally the domain of the feared miniature collector, I’ve never understood the desire to collate and collect these mini-bottles of whisky. After all, they aren’t meant for longer term storage and seeing your whisky literally evaporate before your eyes is, I expect a slow form of torture, or it is to an onlooker like myself. Independent bottlers and distilleries today, could do more on the smaller bottle size front. We’re all not able to purchase a 70cl release and this is where collectives and clubs thankfully come into play.
Independents and distilleries have been well versed in jumping on the royal bandwagon. Any excuse for a special release it seems. Perhaps looking to gain favour and the opportunity of a Royal Warrant that is held by only a handful of distilleries. As ever, it comes down to the liquid; a toast for good health, those that we’ve lost and gained in 2019 and this site that continues to grow arms, legs and chatterboxes.
Glen Grant Royal Marriage 1948-1961 – review
Color: fresh honeycomb.
On the nose: where to start? Malty, fruity and sweetness with prestine balance. Riple apples, a delicate dusting of sweet cinnamon, wine gums, unused tea leaves and a vibrant fresh vanilla. Caramel, chocolate mint leaf, dried orange, heather honey and apricots. Star ainse, a dustiness, ginger root and Danish Oil. Barley sweets and what was that sauce I had during the Christmas work canteen sitting? Ah yes, a recurrant sauce so quite apt. Also a hint of soap on the finish.
In the mouth: silky and still with a robust character even at 40% strength. Caramel apples, walnuts, malt again with milk chocolate and vanilla. A short finish. A gentle smoke, camphor, more tea leaves, nutmeg and poached pears. A lovely balance and progression of flavours.
A fitting dram for any occasion. What comes at a surprise is that even at 40% strength, this was punchy and full of character. Modern day whiskies are timid and lobotomised at this strength. Instead, this Glen Grant really catches you out with a gorgeous nose and brimming with flavours. There is a little soapy note and the short finish. If this was bottled at a slightly higher strength and lacking that gentle soap towards the end then we’d be in 10 territory.
As such, it remains a very high scoring whisky. And indicative of the Glen Grants I’ve had over the years. Jim can rave about today’s incarnations, but I’d sorry, the true majesty of this distillery is in bygone decades. A classic Speyside whisky. If only today’s regional offerings put as much effort into their whiskies as they spend on marketing and packaging, then we’d all be in love with this style of whisky again.