Tag Archives: speyside

Glen Grant 18 Review

Distillery: Glen Grant. Region: Speyside. ABV: 43%. Age: 18 years. Price: $150.

After having tasted the wonderful new Glen Grant 12-year-old a few weeks ago, I was eager to try the distillery’s newly launched 18-year-old. These two bottlings, together with a separate non-chill-filtered 12-year-old expression, are replacing the previous Glen Grant 10- and 16-year-old in the U.S., complete with a welcome packaging update.

And now that Jim Murray has named the 18-year-old his 2017 Scotch Whisky of the Year and the second-best whisky in the world, it’s bound to get a lot more attention.

Like the new 12-year-old, the 18 has an aroma of delicate orchard fruits, but there are also deeper notes of sweet vanilla, caramel and oak here too. The creamy palate is layered with lighter vanilla and lemon citrus notes mixed with darker fruit–think raisins–and oaky spice. The spice and sweetness lingers on the long, crisp finish.

I really enjoyed the multiple layers of the Glen Grant 18. It’s approachable and light, but it also allows you to explore deeper and darker notes than the 12-year-old. The price tag of $150 is steep for an 18-year-old, but I’d recommend trying this new Speyside, especially in a side-by-side tasting with the 12.

Cheers! – JTR

Buy Glen Grant whisky online at Mash + Grape

Glen Grant kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Feature photo from instagram.com/fireangel80

Glen Grant 12 Review

Distiller: Glen Grant. Region: Speyside. ABV: 43%. Age: 12 years. Price: $50.

I’ll be completely honest–I was more than a little jealous when I saw Axis cohort BO’s post last week of the 16-bottle vertical tasting of Glen Grant he experienced. Those guys on the West Coast always seem to take their whisky tastings to a different level.

That post also made me even more excited to try the newly launched Glen Grant 12 year old for myself.

Founded in 1840, the legendary Glen Grant has a long history of producing whisky in the Speyside region of Scotland. Its master distiller, Dennis Malcolm, has spent the last 55 years perfecting his craft, and became a legend in his own right when Queen Elizabeth recently anointed him Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

So how is his new 12-year-old expression?

The nose reminds me of walking past the fresh fruit stands at the local farmer’s market, where the aroma of freshly picked apples mixes with apricots and peaches. On the light palate are more fruit notes, with the addition of oranges and lemons. These are balanced with a lovely floral bouquet and very subtle spice. The sweet finish lingers as I raise my glass in congratulations to Dennis for his achievement.

This is a great Speyside at a reasonable price point, and makes me eager to try the new 18-year-old soon. Cheers! – JTR

The distiller graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Glen Moray Port Cask Finish Review

Distiller: Glen Moray. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Region: Speyside. Price: $25-28.

There are certain whiskies that seem meant to be consumed in the solitary part of your afternoon. The kind of dram that brings comfort and warmth after, say, an extended hike, or a presentation that drained you. A drink that is the only companion you’ll need while you recharge. One of those for me, ever since a lovely late afternoon in Edinburgh’s Bow Bar, has been Glen Moray.

This Speyside distillery has been producing whisky since 1897, and continues to produce quality whiskies at an insane value. This Glen Moray Port Cask Finish, for example, which takes the Glen Moray Classic (aged for an average of 7 years) and ages it for 8 months in a Tawny Port cask, goes for about $25 in the Chicago area. For that price, I wasn’t expecting much, but as I sipped while preparing to review, I found myself almost falling for this whisky.

The color is a pale amber, akin to an apple cider. It has a nose of toasted vanilla and light oak, along with hints of leather, dark cocoa, and berries. The palate is lemon zest, toffee, and cinnamon–and yes, a definite touch of wine. And the finish, which is easily my favorite part, is lingering, sustained. It releases honey, spice, and rich chocolate, and remains long after the last sip has been consumed.

I highly recommend letting the drink breathe a bit before drinking, but it’s a rewarding, affordable, and quite interesting single malt.

Here’s to new discoveries, friends! – TM

Buy Glen Moray single malt online at Mash + Grape

Stronachie 18 Review

Producer: A.D. Rattray. Distiller: Benrinnes. ABV: 46%. Age: 18 years. Price: $80.

Wow! Liked this so much I hesitated to post–at least before I had a chance to grab of one the few bottles of it left at K&L Wines. But it’s all about spreading the love–and if somebody else snaps them up first, they may find a new favorite.

Stronachie was founded in the 1890s, and produced a distinctive Highland single malt until 1928, distributed by Dewar Rattray. When the modern A.D. Rattray set out to revive the brand, they found a 1904 vintage bottle and tried to match the profile. They settled on malt from Benrinnes, finished in a mix of bourbon and sherry.

They release a 10-year-old under the Stronachie name, as well as this, the 18-year-old. I’ll let you know when I can do a side-by-side with the 1904 vintage. In the meantime, I’ll say this 18 is a stunner. Robust malt on the nose, wildflower honey, dandelion stems. Palate: spiced orange marmalade, buttery tea biscuits, full mouthfeel. Long finish with bourbon barrel spice. Love it.

Here’s to unexpected discoveries, friends! – BO

Craigellachie 19 Review

Distiller: Craigellachie. ABV: 46%. Age: 19 years. Region: Speyside. Price: $135.

Hot damn, that’s a good-looking bottle.

Our look at John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts line continues (see the Royal Brackla 12 review as well) with a Duty Free-only release from Craigellachie, whose more common 13-year-old release is one of my favorite daily drinkers.

This 19-year-old release is bottled at 46%, and it’s more enigmatic than its little brother. Takes some time to come together. But for me, it sure does.

Nose: smoked honeycomb. White chocolate. Some sweet organic life–wet leaves?–and pink grapefruit. Palate: a little wild, a little sulphuric. This ain’t a beginner’s whisky. Juicy malt. Nice mouthfeel. Then that grapefruit again, grilled and salted like a starter at a hipster foodie brunch. Finish: white smoke and vanilla Torrone candy.

A bit of an oddball, this one, but lovable as hell. Cheers, friends! – BO

Buy Craigellachie online at Mash + Grape

Benromach 10 & Sassicaia Wood Finish Review

Benromach 10 – Distiller: Benromach. ABV: 43%. Age: 10 years.  Region: Speyside. Price: $50.

Benromach Sassicaia Wood Finish – Distiller: Benromach. ABV: 45%. Age: 9 years. Region: Speyside. Price: $60-70.

There’s a lot to love in the current Benromach lineup. The 15-year-old (review here) and the Imperial Proof were two of my favorite drams of 2015. The distillery, revitalized by Gordon & MacPhail during the 1990s as they sought to expand from independent bottling to distilling as well, emphasizes its smallness. It’s the lowest-production working distillery in Speyside, even after doubling capacity recently, and is operated entirely by three people. The brand is also focuses on its “pre-1960s Speyside” profile, by which they mean lightly peated. (That applies to all but the more robust Peat Smoke bottling.)

Benromach has also mixed things up with some limited wine cask finishes, the latest of which is a Sassicaia finish–a Bordeaux-style Tuscan red. To appreciate the particular qualities the finish brings, I tasted the Sassicaia Wood Finish alongside the standard Ben 10.

I can say without hesitation that the 10 is a first-rate daily drinker. The nose leads with sweet bourbon fruits, especially pear. There’s also cinnamon stick, raw ginger, and a little grapefruit. On the palate, the touch of peat adds great warmth, pointing up the flavors of baking spice and buttery malt biscuits. The body is relatively light. The peat extends the medium-dry finish very nicely.

The 9-year-old Sassicaia adds a few more proof points (bottled at 45% ABV) and has a gorgeous rosy-orange tint in the glass. The nose has more vanilla bean and custard than the 10, with a floral note too: violet? Lavender? The palate adds orange blossom to the 10’s profile, with the peat a bit lighter, and a drier oak on the finish.

A welcome variation on a great new standard, and a relative rarity with just 3,500 bottles made.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Benromach graciously shared samples with us for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.