By Richard Thomas
Finishing scotch in old sherry casks is a fixture of scotch-making, and a variety of blended and single malt scotch whiskeys, such as the Balvenie’s Doublewood. Even so, Grant’s Sherry Cask Finish scotch is special in its own right, and for three reasons in particular.
The scotch is the second of Grant’s Cask Edition whiskeys, along with the company’s unique Ale Cask Finish, and the only blended scotch that finishes in sherry casks. While finishing in an old sherry barrel is nothing new, until the 2001 introduction of Grant’s Sherry Cask scotch that process was limited to single malts. Finally, because Grant’s Sherry Cask is a blended scotch, it (usually) offers a sherry-finished scotch at a bargain.
Grant’s Sherry Cask Finish draws from the same base of whiskeys as the basic Grant’s Family Reserve, but saves the blending for the finishing stage. The whiskeys are mixed together, put in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and aged for up to another four months.
Grant’s Sherry Cask Finish scotch is basically the triangular Grant’s bottle with the dark green label, bottled at the customary 40% alcohol.
On the nose, the scotch is a cake-like mixture of honey, dried fruits and orange zest, with just a hint of wood. The flavor brings on sherry-sweet candied fruits and smoky leather. The finish is warm, fruity and sherry-dry.
This is a fine scotch when taken neat. Ludo Ducrocq, Grant’s global ambassador, encouraged me to give it a try on the rocks, which I thought brought out more of the smoky, leathery quality of the flavor.
Grant’s Sherry Cask retails at a reasonable $30 to $35 a bottle in the United States. I have seen it priced on some European shelves for around 25 euros. That price is comparable to that of some entry-level single malt scotches with a sherry finish. However, those single malts are also more likely to see mark-ups on the store shelf, no matter what the distillery says about how it should be priced. From everything I’ve seen or been told, the price of a bottle of Grant’s Sherry Cask is more reliable, making it a bargain for sherry finish lovers.
Grant’s Sherry Cask Finish scotch is so loaded down with decorations, one expects the bottle to tip over. In 2007, it was commended at the International Spirits Challenge, but came back in 2008 and 2010 to win gold there, as well as a silver in 2009. At the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the whiskey garnered a silver in 2007 and 2009, as well as a silver plus best in class in 2008.