Update on Glen Grant Scotch whisky, including the debut of the 16 yr. oldJanuary 25th, 2010
Today I lunched with Dennis Malcolm, Distillery Manager for Glen Grant, and a man who has been in the whisky industry for nearly 50 years. After a long absence, “Distillery Bottled” Glen Grant is returning to the U.S. (It has only been available through independent bottlers, like Gordon & MacPhail.)
According to Dennis, today is the world debut of the new Glen Grant 16 yr. old. It’s debuting here in the U.S., along with the Glen Grant 10 yr. old. (The 16 yr. old will be rolling out into other world markets soon.)
The 16 yr. old is the oldest regular Glen Grant on the market. (There have been, and will occasionally be, older limited-edition offerings.) In Europe, the 10 yr, old is already in distribution, along with a “Major’s Reserve” (approximately 7 years old). And Dennis mentioned that they sometimes release special single cask, cask-strength whiskies at the distillery gift shop.
The 10 yr. old ($45) and 16 yr. old ($80) Glen Grants are now getting into circulation in seven markets here in the U.S.: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas. The brand will then roll out to the rest of the U.S. in 2011.
Historically, Glen Grant was a malt that went into blended scotch. It was initially launched as a single malt in the Italian market. Campari purchased the brand in 2006, with the desire to penetrate into new markets with it. According to Dennis, the whisky is also already quite popular in Sweden and France.
Dennis told me that 50% of production is now being bottled as a single malt, with the remaining going into blended scotch. (It’s still a major component of the Chivas blend.)
Interestingly, according to Dennis, over a century ago, there was actually a “Glen Grant #2” distillery, similar to the way there were two Clynelish distilleries. It shut down after a few years, but a distillery reopened on that same site back in 1965: Caperdonich, which then closed in 2003.
Some other interesting tidbits: The oldest cask in the distillery’s warehouse is from 1972. And while exploring cask samples, he stumbled on a cask of Glen Grant that previously contained an Islay whisky. That, I would be interested in tasting!
And what of the whisky? I received review samples a few weeks ago (just haven’t gotten my reviews up on the blog here yet), and we tasted both the 10 and 16 yr. old again today. The 10 is a very light, fresh, easy-drinking dram–a great way to ease into the single malt category. The 16 shows more depth and richness (along with more sherry). I’ll post up my formal reviews of both soon.