Founded in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant in Rothes, Glen Grant Distillery has been making whisky with care and passion for over 175 years. Unfortunately, for a long time, this heritage seemed to also be reflected in its packaging, which was looking extremely dated – and not in a good way. It seems like the brand is looking to remedy this though, with the roll out of a new look and – more importantly – three new expressions.
The new 12 Year Old, 12 Year Old Non Chill-Filtered and 18 Year Old all feature a new logo and packaging. The logo is a sort-of Grant family monogram, featuring the letters ‘J’ (for James) ‘R’ (for his first wife, Rose) and ‘G’ (for Grant, obviously). Each is filled into tall, elegant bottles, and the labelling is kept to an absolute minimum, resulting in a very sleek look.
This is all very well but, crucially, what do they taste like?
Glen Grant 12 Year Old – 43% ABV
With whisky, you can’t stop your eyes from partially guiding you, and so was the case with this first dram. The nose was, as expected from the colour, very light. Initial notes of apples and pears, with a very light hint of citrus and an underlying sweetness. However, on the palate, it burst into life! It’s very fruity on the palate – oranges and lemons – and extremely robust. Lots of vanilla, with a slight wisp of spice and a much longer finish than I was expecting. A lesson in not letting the colour of a whisky pre-judge your expectations.
Glent Grant 12 Year Old Non Chill-Filtered – 48% ABV
This one is only available in travel retail, so keep your eyes peeled for it next time you are travelling through an airport. Its lack of chill-filtering (ask your parents) makes it very oily and buttery on the nose. Lots of vanilla again, with some almond also thrown in. The butter-come-butterscotch flavour is there on the palate too, along with other gentle sweet flavours including toffee and caramel. The apples from the nose of the chill filtered bottling are back too, as is that bite of spice right at the end.
Glen Grant 18 Year Old – 43%
The daddy of the three, this is VERY FLORAL – I could smell it from the moment I opened the bottle, with a slight earthiness too. Not as sharp as the previous two bottlings on the palate; much smoother. A slightly more muted sweetness, with a nutty finish.
It’s great to see some life injected into the Glen Grant range after so many years, and thankfully, this is also reflected in the new expressions. Of the three whiskies, I’d say the 12 Year Old is my favourite and an absolute snip at under £50.