By Adam Irvine
Like many a Rothes distillery, Glen Grant can be easily missed when touring the stills of Speyside. Unlike the brazen hussies of Dufftown, which flaunt their seductive padogas from every angle, Rothes has a habit of tucking its distilleries away from view. Interestingly they proudly display the animal feed plant, but it seems the town may be just a wee bit embarrassed about its whisky heritage.
Glen Grant’s slightly shy geographic disposition translates somewhat to its position in the market. It’s a bit overlooked when buyers scan the shelves. It is a bit like the kid who never gets picked first at school, but should certainly be higher up the list. Glen Grant might not have the star quality of Glendronach or the fancy tricks of Benriach, but it is a sold dram and typically performs well week in, week out.
The 18 year old is one of three new expressions to be released with the obligatory packaging revamp and juiced up marketing messages. My particular favorite is that the new packaging will feature “a new logo and color scheme to help consumers ‘easily identify’ the different expressions.” They are clearly seeking to explore a gap in the market of visually challenged customers, but what does the new 18 year old offer?
Bottled at 43% ABV, the nose here is unexpected, and distinctly different from the new 12 year old. Radically so. Where has all of that seductive sweetness gone? Instead, this is distinctly mineralic, with soap stone and even green olive pips. Quite a shy nose too, quiet and brooding, perhaps grumpy. The scent just doesn’t want to come out to play, and acts like a moody older brother to the 12. Musty edge with chipboard and sesame oil and green tomato, with an underlying base of honeyed cereal and straw.
On the palate I got a blast of rain evaporating from concrete and adhesive tape. Those green olive and tomato notes lingered on. This led to a wispy and pleasant finish.
The official price is a rather punchy £110. That is an aggressive price point for any 18 year old.