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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 15, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
'That' Glen Grant
I feel like I'm very much 'late to the party' here, but I didn't know Serge was planning to publish his notes for this shiny new / ancient Glen Grant 1953 yesterday. Anyway, this is undeniably an exciting whisky and, being a self-confessed Glen Grant fanatic, I am afraid you will just have to put up with my notes as well. Needless to say, the strength, age and provenance of such a cask are all pretty incredible. Sometimes it is good to just wallow in the un-adulterated excitement of being a whisky geek. Let's first find a suitable aperitif though… 


Glen Grant 12 yo (43%, Moray Bonding, Giovinetti import, 1960s)

Glen Grant 12 yo (43%, Moray Bonding, Giovinetti import, 1960s) 
I've already recorded notes for a few of these releases on WF. But the colour from bottling to bottling never seems to sit still so no doubt there's considerable batch variation. That's my excuse anyway. Colour: pale amber. Nose: it's easy to forget when trying many very good modern whiskies, just how fucking incredible old style sherry was / can be. I'm sorry, but this just kills any modern sherry cask stone dead. A stunning mix of mentholated wood resins and honeys. Fir wood, natural tar, long-aged herbal liqueurs, walnut wine and a soft yet wonderfully deep rancio. Simple, but kind of to die for. Mouth: similarly stunning. Hugely resinous, herbal, peppery and waxy. The impression of fat, textural, peppery distillate all wrapped up in some wonderfully salty, fruity, nervous old school sherry. Mint chocolate, black coffee, more walnuts and more dried herbs. Finish: medium, loses one point here, but still wonderfully leathery, earthy, chocolatey and riddled with rancio, dark fruits and tobacco. Comments: There are of course many technically better whiskies, but if you told me I could only have one whisky to drink for the rest of my life, it's entirely possible I might chose an old Glen Grant like this. Pleasure, decadence, opulence, grace, subtlety, class and charm epitomised. This is 'happy whisky' for me.
SGP: 652 - 91 points. 



Glen Grant 67 yo 1953/2021 (59.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Mr George Legacy', 1st fill sherry butt, cask #4209, 355 bottles)

Glen Grant 67 yo 1953/2021 (59.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Mr George Legacy', 1st fill sherry butt, cask #4209, 355 bottles) 
Of all the people in whisky I wish I could have met, George Urquhart is right up there with the Bessie Williamson's of yesteryear.… Colour: deep, ruby mahogany. Nose: it's tricky with such whiskies, because you very much 'steel' yourself to be impressed. Which is definitely the case here where the word that feels immediately appropriate is 'precious'. Precious hardwood resins, many types of honey and the conjunction of long-aged demerara rums and Grande Champagne cognacs. A perfectly deep and precise rancio. And many, many smaller aromas of things like natural tar, aged teas, old medicines, tobaccos, earth. Familiar aromas in this type of whisky but the interplay, nuance and complexity are utterly brilliant. With water: perfect now! The fruits begin to really sing, with these crystallised and exotic fruit notes emerging. Jammy, fat, herbal, textural, medical and with a stunning earthy depth. Mouth: the power is immense on arrival. The wood is big, spicy and with these brooding, chocolatey tannins everywhere. But they are clean and controlled, while the alcohol feels like it provides essential structure. Superbly dense, sticky dark fruits, more ancient, rancio-drenched Cognac, salted liquorice, natural tar, herbal liqueurs and walnut wine. It is the length and depth of this whisky that is so impressive, you can only follow it in so many directions at once, and wherever you follow it leads you somewhere new. With water: the best cough medicine you ever tasted. Stunningly resinous, peppery, deep, pristinely spicy, chocolatey, medicinal and endlessly complex and evolving. A distilled essay on time. Finish: an endless, perfectly bitter, peppery afterglow. Warmth, fruits, herbs, medicines, spices and earth. Comments: As ever, hard to disengage the emotions in such instances. Unlike so many other very old whiskies, I would say the palate matches, and even surpasses, the nose here at times. A truly brilliant whisky that is a very worthy demonstration and celebration of how great age can, on rarefied occasion, be a tremendous asset. A genuinely great achievement and a very fitting tribute to George Urquhart, to whom we whisky geeks undoubtedly owe a significant debt. 
SGP: 562 - 94 points. 



There's a fair amount of criticism you could lay at G&M's feet over the years. But the laying down, stewardship and preservation of such stocks was genuinely decades ahead of its time and the fact such a bottling can still be issued today is just thrilling if you ask me. Remember, whisky is not at all like Cognac. There are not centuries of cultural mentality supporting and encouraging the passing of product from generation to generation; no culture of preserving and storing in glass; no normalisation of age statements like '100 years old' - or indeed the maturation 'apparatus' with which to easily achieve such ages. These 'mega old' whiskies we're seeing now are a relatively new thing and, despite being 'old', in many ways they are arguably the start of something new. 



There seems to be more and more talk these days about this milestone of '100 years old' that we appear to be inching towards incrementally. I don't believe there is any reason on paper why this could not one day be achieved, it's just that it is something which would have to be understood, decided, designed and planned for at the outset or in youth - not grasped for latterly. These Gordon & MacPhail stocks are probably the closest we have to such a mentality and process, and in my view that's something to be commended. Irrespective of what stocks remain and how far they may be stretched, the fact such bottlings exist at all is extremely satisfying.




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