By Richard Thomas
Grant’s Ale Cask Finish Scotch is a one of a kind whiskey, turning a well-established relationship between whiskey and beer on its head. Craft beers and microbrews (usually bourbon ales and stouts) have been aged in old whiskey casks for many years, although the idea only became popular during the last decade. Yet Grant’s Ale Cask scotch is the only whiskey of the market aged in old beer casks, giving it a truly unique character.
The casks are first used to age Edinburgh Ale for 30 days, and then filled with an already-seasoned batch of Grant’s whiskey. The scotch spends its final four months seasoning in the ale cask, and then goes on to bottling.
Grant’s Ale Cask is identifiable from the rest of Grant’s line by its cyan label and trim. The proportions in the blend favor grain whiskey over malt whiskey, and those whiskeys were chosen with an eye on eliminating peat flavors from the end product. A representative at Grant’s Whisky told me that peat smoke just didn’t work for the ale cask finish, and the result is the only unpeaty scotch in the Grant’s line. The Ale Cask scotch a pale golden color, and is bottled at 40% alcohol.
The scent of Grant’s Ale Cask is laced with honey and graininess, and more than a little reminiscent of an old fashioned sarsaparilla. On the palate, the scotch comes across with the sweet flavors of dry fruits and creamy vanilla. The finish has just a hint of biting heat to it.
In addition to being the only whiskey in the world aged in beer casks, Grant’s Ale Cask is also the only scotch I would consider drinking on the rocks. I usually abhor combining my whiskey with ice, and in my book putting whiskey on the rocks is really only acceptable on hot summer days, and only then with lower-tier whiskey. Grant’s Ale Cask is a singular exception, because its aforementioned creamy sweet qualities and hints of sarsaparilla are very well-suited to ice, and the whiskey is quite refreshing when served cold. Grant’s Ale Cask is also a pleasant sipping scotch when taken neat.
Grant’s Ale Cask Finish Scotch Whiskey is a special edition label and not widely distributed. If you can find it on a liquor store shelf or online, it could be priced between $35 and $50 a bottle.
The ale cask finish scotch won gold at the 2009 International Wine and Spirit Competition, and then followed up on that success by winning gold and “Best in Class” at the 2010 competition.