At the moment of writing this, it’s been exactly a week since the enhanced quarantine in Luzon has been implemented. I am running out of ideas to attach to reviews. Luckily, I remembered someone asking for more reviews on official whiskies, when Malt asked what its readers wanted more of before the year started. So, here I go with three less recognizable official bottle 12 year old single malts.
I don’t really know anything about the Spey single malt. I first encountered my 1st bottle a few years ago. I initially thought it was some kind of single malt whose source, or different sources, couldn’t be disclosed. Something like Port Askaig or Smokehead to be clearer. But it turns out this single malt is actually from the Speyside distillery and not just a Speyside distillery. One of my cousins left the bottle in my house when we were celebrating the Moon Cake Festival last year.
Anyways, this is apparently a limited release of 8000 bottles for the Asian market. This was aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished for 6 months in virgin oak casks. Disappointingly bottled at 40% abv and chill-filtered, but at least has no added coloring.
Glen Grant and its parent company, Campari, seem to have been picking up these past 3 years. They’ve been acquiring more brands. They’ve also started being more active in Asia. Yet, I think their gin (Bulldog) and Glen Grant still have a long way to go in terms of fame. Which is odd since brands that usually win Jim Murray awards often pick up overnight fame. Glen Grant has been in Jim’s top 3 whiskeys since 2017, yet the brand has yet to explode in fame. This is odd and perplexing, so I’ll see what a younger version delivers.
Deanston first caught my attention years ago when Glenmorangie’s Ealanta was crowned the world’s best whisky by a certain award. Scotch aged in virgin casks seemed like a new and hot topic for a while because of that. Deanston’s Virgin Oak was one of the few readily available single malts out there which could be compared to the Ealanta. But I never got the chance to acquire a bottle. This 12 year is my first Deanston. Ralfy’s making it his most recent whisky of the year has also given it more attention.
Spey 12 year old – review
On the nose: Very mild and mellow scents of oak, coconut sugar syrup, coconut jam, vanilla, maple syrup, hints of lemon and orange peel and hints of cappuccino. Some unexpected scents of varnish and sulfur come out at the end.
In the mouth: Watery tastes of mocha, sulfur, varnish, raisins, supermarket maraschino cherries, vanilla, nuts, maple syrup and coconut sugar water to round it off.
Glen Grant 12 year old – review
Color: pale lager.
On the nose: An upfront astringency mixed with hints of green apples, orange peel, chardonnay, oak, nuts and hints of cacao. Some sweet citrus, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, hints of coconuts sugar syrup and honey.
In the mouth: A lively and full-bodied symphony of lemons, cinnamon, coconut husks, vanilla, orange peel, honey, hints of almonds, hints of roasted barley and mocha.
Deanston 12 year old – review
On the nose: Sharp but pleasant notes of honey and oak. They’re quickly followed by ginger ale, stewed apple, coconuts sugar syrup, ginger. It’s rounded off by dried apricots, dried figs and hints of tannins with some sneaky cloves.
In the mouth: A pleasantly mellow welcome of honey and ginger syrup, banana syrup, stewed apples. Then some sharp and mildly tannic notes with cloves arise. More apple concentrate, dried apricot, banana liqueur and hints of latte come out to round everything off.
This Spey has a very pleasant nose, but falls flat when sipped. This is too watery and very easy to drink, thus it becomes incredibly boring. Uninspiring to talk about. This is something for people who prefer a smooth drink. Luckily, I didn’t waste money on this. Can I stop talking about Speyside now?
The Glen Grant 12 is very shy on the nose. It was hard to pick out the different scents. It made me think it was going to be the same in the mouth. But sipping this was a delight. The flavors are lively. There was enough body, texture and complexity in this whisky to keep it interesting. It has a good assortment of fruits and spices that take their messy turns.
The shy and muted nose will give the drinker a certain amount of uncertainty. This is the first official Glen Grant I’ve had. I’m mum about this brand. I’m not too excited about trying more from the range, but I’m not too against the idea either. Had the nose been more expressive, I would have given it a 6. This makes me curious if an extra 6 years of aging really does wonders for Glen Grant. By looking at this 12 year, I don’t see how the 18 year can be in Jim’s top 3 for 3 consecutive years.
I like the Deanston 12 a lot. It’s sweet and full of tropical fruits. If the 46.3% scares you, then don’t be scared. It hits more like a 43% spirit but has the body and mouthfeel of a 46% whisky. This lacks some depth and complexity though, but that’s expected for a 12-year-old.
I haven’t been following Ralfy lately. So, I can’t say if this is really the best whisky, he had for 2019. But I can see why he would make this his whisky of the year for 2020. It’s a straight-forward and easy to drink, but not interesting 12 year old, non-chill-filtered, bottled at 46.3%. What you get on the nose is what you will get in the mouth. For something that’s about $60, this is a great deal and a great everyday sipper if you’re sick of bestselling brands. The label is also pretty nice as it acknowledges the different steps and people responsible for making the whisky.