By Kurt Maitland
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Grant’s Global Ambassador, Ludovic Ducrocq. We talked about a range of topics from the qualities of Japanese whiskeys to the joys of jetlag, but the real reason we got together was to discuss the recreation of Grant’s 1912 Stand Fast Whisky. Well actually it was a little more than discuss…
I also got the chance to go back in time and taste the whisky that started it all for Grant’s as Ludo allowed me and the others lucky enough to attend, a taste of the recreated Stand Fast.
Just so you understand, this was a special moment that was a century in the making. Paul Kendal (Grant’s archivist) came across the handwritten records of founder William Grant in the Grant’s family archives. These records detailed the exact whiskies that were used to create Grant’s Stand Fast on June 11, 1912. Prior to this discovery, the “recipe” had been passed down verbally to each of the master blenders, who would then use their knowledge and skills to craft Grant’s Blended Scotch Whisky.
100 years to the day (June 11th 2012), Grant’s Master Blender, Brian Kinsman recreated 100 bottles of the original Stand Fast Whisky. These bottles aren’t for sale but will be stored in the family archive with the blending book for future generations.
In keeping with the original methods used by William Grant, the recreated Stand Fast was not chill-filtered but instead used the older process of egg white filtration (more commonly used in winemaking than whisky) and has an age profile of 6 years. Now let’s get down to brass tacks…
Look – The Stand Fast is clear with a slight ginger tint.
Nose – Fruity, with hints of malt and vanilla.
Taste – Smooth, with swirls of tobacco, fruit, and peat and a great muted burn on the back end. The taste of peat in the Stand Fast is less prevalent than it is in the Grant’s of today. A little water rounds all of these favors and makes the burn more uniform and level throughout.
Having now tasted both the Stand Fast and Grant’s Family Reserve, you can taste the roots of Grant’s whisky line. Now when I drink Grant’s Family Reserve, in some ways I can taste some of the other Master Blenders’ changes (like getting into a modern Mustang after having a spin in the original 1964 (and ½) Ford Mustang).
Addendum by Richard Thomas
I was lucky enough to have a sample of the recreated Stand Fast sent to me, giving me this peak into the Grant’s of the past. I certainly liked what I found.
In the glass, the scotch has a very pale, bleached straw coloring. The scent comes up with a mix of apple, pear, and malty sweetness, with a tinge of leathery, aged character and a measure of vanilla.
The flavor is light, multi-faceted, and well-balanced. The entry is crisp and a bit woody, but then flows into a place where cinnamon and ginger blend with caramel and vanilla. In contrast to the lightness of the palate, the finish is long and warm.
If you should be invited to a future Grant’s event where they plan to trot out Stand Fast from their reserve, make a point of attending. The company really should consider putting this stuff into regular production.
Since it isn’t for sale we can honestly say priceless. I asked Ludo if there was any plan to create a version that would be sold to the general public, and for now there is not, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed as I would gladly make the Stand Fast a staple of my whiskey rotation.