By Richard Thomas
The current Grant’s 18 Year Old blended scotch is a new rendition of an old idea. As the name indicates, both the old and the new were aged for at least 18 years in oak barrels. However, the modern 18 Year Old label is finished for several months in used sherry barrels. Hoary whiskey fans recalling “William Grant’s Classic Reserve 18 Years Old” should not expect to find a similar scotch under the modern label “William Grant’s Rare Old Scotch Whisky 18 Years Old.” Even so, this excellent, well-aged whiskey is the second oldest in Grant’s product line.
For starters, the presentation of the modern Grant’s 18 Year Old is a big improvement. The bottle has a neo-Victorian style that makes this scotch a real decoration on any liquor shelf or cabinet. The scotch is bottled at 43% abv, and finished in old port barrels.
Grant’s 18 Year Old is a complex, mellow and somewhat sweet whiskey. On the nose, this scotch delivers a soft fragrance of nut and honey, with a slight hint of ruby port. The flavor is full-bodied and malty, tasting of dark honey, dry fruits and more ruby port. The finish is long, warm, very pleasant and slightly peaty.
Although I almost always prefer my whiskey neat, and Grant’s 18 Year is no exception, I must admit that a splash of water unlocks the flavors of this scotch marvelously. If you like a little water in your whiskey, this scotch is an excellent top shelf choice.
Grant’s 18 Year Old is not in general international distribution, and at the time of publication I was unable to find any quotes for what it might cost in the United States, implying that few bottles have found their way across the Pond in even an unofficial capacity. The scotch is available in Continental Europe, where I have seen it priced around 40 euros in France and around 55 euros in Portugal.
The laurels for the modern Grant’s 18 Year Old opened in 2007, with a gold at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) and “Best Scotch Blended Whisky” at the World Whisky Awards. The scotch went on to win another gold at the ISC in 2008, followed by a bronze in 2009. Grant’s 18 Year also won gold at the 2008 Scotch Whisky Masters and gold plus best in class at the 2009 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). The awards kept coming, as the scotch grabbed gold at the 2010 ISC, Scotch Whisky Masters, and the IWSC, all in a row. At the 2013 IWSC, Grant’s 18 Year Old won Gold Outstanding and (suitably) the William Grant’s Independence Trophy for Blended Scotch Whisky.