About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


It's always something special to try whisky distilled the year you were born. (Darn, now I gave away that I'm an old fart!). This one, however, is just that bit more special to me as I just love, love, love old sherry matured whiskies. It wasn't that long ago that I had the chance to try a 1968 40yo sherry matured Longmorn, which was absolutely stellar - and as with the Longmorn, my expectations for this Glen Grant were quite high.

So what makes these super delicious old sherry matured whiskies?
Well, besides a good base spirit there's the obvious sherry cask... and in these cases just not any sherry casks. IMO, we just don't see sherry casks of that quality these days. 40-60 years ago, people were drinking a lot more sherry than they are today and as a result good sherry casks are hard to come by these days, which is not only reflected in the quality of the casks but also in the price... An ex-bourbon cask these days goes for around £100 where as a sherry cask is about £1000. You can read more abut the decline in the sale of sherry in this article by The Drinks Business from 2015.

As the sale of sherry drops, the need for long term storage of the wine is also declining and you don't get the wine transported in their original casks either as e.g modern bottling halls now does most of the work with the bit of sherry that does get bottled - so there's a few factors to consider when you look at the number sherry casks going in the whisky industry today... Many sherry casks have for a good number of years now also been American oak  sherry casks (typically sherry hogsheads) and not of European oak like they traditionally were - like 40 or 50 years ago with these glorious single casks used to mature e.g. the Longmorn and this Glen Grant

The decline in available sherry casks have for decades now made some whisky companies to broker exclusive deals with sherry bodegas in Spain. As with all business models this is both good and bad as some casks are filled with low quality sherry wine and then infused into the wood under high pressure. When the wood then has been 'sufficiently influenced' the casks are emptied and the 'sherry/wine' is just poured away or is sent away to be distilled into brandy as the quality of the wine often isn't good enough for it to be sold as sherry on its own... I'm not saying this happens with all the sherry casks in the whisky industry today - I'm just saying it happens - and from what I'm told, more often than we would like...

There are still some good sherry matured whiskies out there, make no mistake about that, but I'm yet to be convinced that we'll see a quality of both casks and bottlings like the ones that hit the market just a decade ago...

Glen Grant Stillhouse, April 29th 2011 © The Malt Desk

Glen Grant 1970 35yo Cask#812, 120 bottles, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld

Colour is dark mahogany

Raisins, strong cold coffee, dark chocolate, soy sauce, polished oak, blackcurrants, cooked apple, burnt sugar, dark old rum, licorice and cigar humidor. There's tonnes of Xmas notes in here too... cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and a slight herbal note followed by a bit of refreshing menthol and musty bung cloth

Quite vinous at first, old squeaky clean oloroso sherry giving away to prune juice, alcohol soaked raisins, wet tobacco leaves, cocoa, more blackcurrant but also unsweetened strawberries jam, ancient Port wine, oak spices. There's also some fruity notes coming through if you let it sit for a while (it's hard, I'll tell you that!!) overripe plums and apple are kept at bay by drying notes of cinnamon and clove. Eventually, the quite intense flavors gives away to some salivating malt and drying wood notes...

Another stunning old malt !!


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