By Richard Thomas
Updated August 5, 2014
I’ve heard it said once or twice that Grant’s 25 Year Old is that company’s version of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. According to this line of thinking, both scotches represent the top of their respective lines of blended scotch; both use the color blue; both come in big, ornate gift boxes (although this is a mistake, confusing as it does the standard Blue Label with the King George V Blue Label).
It’s all bunk and coincidence, of course. First, Grant’s 25 Year Old isn’t their version of anything, excepting perhaps that it is the best modern version of their whiskey. Second, I don’t make it a secret that prefer Grant’s over Johnnie Walker, and this instance is no exception. I’ve had both scotches and Grant’s 25 Year Old hands down the superior.
Grant’s crafted the 25 Year in 2009 and introduced it in 2010. The scotch uses 25 separate grain and malt whiskeys, all at least 25 years old and many no longer in production. Of key interest in that blend is a cask of the very first whiskey ever laid down at Grant’s Girvan distillery, back on Christmas Day in 1963. Also of note is the use of some whiskeys from the shuttered Ladyburn distillery. After the marriage, the blend was finished in oak casks for another six months.
Relying as it does on ingredients that cannot be replaced, it goes without saying that Grant’s 25 Year Old is a pseudo-limited edition. When I asked Grant’s Global Ambassador, Ludo Ducrocq, about this, he confirmed that several whiskeys involved in making this most rarefied of Grant’s labels were a finite commodity, but that blending would continue. This implies that while Grant’s 25 Year Old label might be with us for a long time, what the distillery bottles in 2025 might be somewhat different from what we have today.
The nose on the 25 Year is leathery, like the pleasant smell of a horse tackle shop. That is no surprise, given how much time the scotch has had to absorb qualities from the wood, but what is a surprise are light peach notes in the scent. The flavor is very mellow, with the leathery wood staying in the picture and the light, sweet qualities metamorphosing into something that reminded me of ginger cookies, and just a hint of peat in the background. The ginger flavor blends into a long, deep, slightly spicy finish.
Word has it that Grant’s 25 Year Old will be sold exclusively as a premium travel retail product, the sort of thing you only see in the Duty Free shops of major international airports. If you see a bottle of Grant’s 25 Year Old on your local high-end liquor store shelf, take it for granted that the proprietor went to a lot of trouble to put it there. It should be priced at roughly 150£, or $230.
Grant’s 25 Year won gold at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2011, it’s first year of entry. It went on to win gold at the 2013 Scotch Whisky Masters, and then topped that with the “Master” designation at the 2014 session. The blend also scored a “Liquid Gold” designation in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2014.