While most of my blog posts are about American whiskies, and, moreover, bourbon, a good bit of scotch gets drunk at my house. I started drinking scotch in college, but it was mostly blended cheap stuff. Then, as an adult, Macallan came out with a hipster malt scotch brand, Jon Mark & Robbo’s. It came in three varieties – the Rich Spicy One, the Smoky Peaty One, and the Smooth Sweeter One. They had a cool website where you could put in various tastes you like, ranging from beverages to foods, and they would pair you up with one of the three scotches. I was a fan of the Rich Spicy One.
When I married Catherine, we went on a honeymoon to Scotland, and spent a weekend at Glenmorangie distillery at a whisky weekend wherein we sampled many different scotches and were taught to drink them with a discerning palate. This made Catherine a scotch drinker. When we go to BYOB events, we bring along an American and a scotch whiskey.
For my bourbon friends out there who don’t know much about scotch, single malt scotch is a whiskey made from 100% malted barley, which is a component of most American whiskies. The barley is malted (ie. germinated and then kilned to stop the germination) in order to release a wonderful enzyme that more easily breaks down the carbohydrates in the grains into sugars, which is a key component to whiskey making. Most single malts are aged in used cooperage, although there are some being aged in freshly charred oak barrels and released as special editions.
The whiskey I am reviewing today is Glen Grant 15 Year Old Batch Strength, a whiskey made in the Speyside region of Scotland at a distillery owned by the Campari group, which also owns Wild Turkey. As noted on the box, this scotch was aged in used bourbon barrels, and more than likely used Wild Turkey barrels since it would make sense to transfer the barrels intra-company. This whiskey is non-chill filtered, which will enhance the flavor and mouthfeel.
I tried this at Hokus Pokus’ whiskey tasting in December and Catherine and I liked it so much I grabbed a $100 bottle of this off the shelf immediately.
The color on this is a beautiful light golden straw, which pleases me. The climate in Scotland is much cooler than Kentucky. That means that there is less color imparted to the whiskey from the barrel. Scotch is not subject to the same regulations as bourbon, and some producers add coloring to darken their whiskey. Clearly, they did not do that here; the color is correct. On the swirl is a really nice film and some seriously long thick legs.
On the nose is fruity, malty sweetness; very delicate. On the palate, wonderful lemon and other citrus fruits, a little vanilla, some pepper and a hint of clove. The finish lingers with some spice and almost turns to cinnamon, much like a really good bourbon, but with the malty citrus notes continuing. The mouthfeel on this is excellent and really thick.
Not even a whiff of peat on this Speyside scotch. No funky notes at all in fact. While many high end scotches are either aged or finished in sherry casks, scotch when left to age long enough in ex-bourbon casks, bottled at high proof with no chill filtering, is some of the best scotch out there, as I have noted before.
This is an amazing scotch, particularly for the price point. Yes, $100 is not cheap in the whiskey world, but in the world of scotch, there are many very good and generally available bottles in the $80 to $100 price point that people splurge on, but this one is head and shoulders above those. This scotch is likewise available, but the flavors and the mouthfeel are so top drawer that one would expect to pay more for this.
And that’s not something I say very often.