Glen Grant 16 Year Old

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Glen Grant 16 Year Old 
Single malt whisky 
Speyside, Scotland  
Best served:
Bourbon cask
Wood, tart fruit, barley, cocoa, butter, nut oils, mild spice, vanilla (natural), light honey, citrus 
Glen Grant is a distillery located in the Speyside region of Scotland and since it was founded in 1840 the distillery has aimed to produce a whisky that is light, smooth and fruity. 174 years later, in 2014, not much has changed at Glen Grant except its size. Glen Grant is now the fifth most popular single malt whisky in the world and the number 1 single malt in Italy. No wonder. The timeless Glen Grant style is so perfectly suited to appreciating la bella vita that I want to kiss the bottle on both cheeks.

Despite being the fifth most popular malt whisky in the world, Glen Grant only offers a few core expressions – the Major’s Reserve, the 10 year old and the 16 year old. Malt Mileage recently had the opportunity to taste and review the Glen Grant 16 year old, and we found that (unsurprisingly) it offered a slightly fuller mouth-feel and heavier wood notes (with a resulting medium-full body) than the more fruity and lighter 10 year old. 
The Glen Grant 16 year old is aged for 16 years in ex-bourbon casks. It offers a complex array of tart stone fruit, barley, American Oak and the most delightful citrus peel notes that gradually brighten in the glass as the whisky rests. Despite what the label says, the fruit is more crisp and tart than ripe while the whisky itself is medium-dry on the palate.

The most impressive aspect of this whisky in my opinion is not only the wood, but the way the wood accentuates and lifts the oily barley and tart fruit notes in the distillate. Glen Grant prides itself on the use of tall slender stills and purifiers, and it is great to see that these purifiers (which basically provide reflux of heavier vapours so that lighter vapours can pass through to be collected) allow the spirit to retain its natural oils and flavours. This means that the whisky does not hide behind the wood or bourbon influence. This is whisky as it should be – full of luscious barley accentuated by layered and complex wood notes.  

For more information on distilling and how whisky is made, please see: Malt Mileage Guide to Spirit Making
Tasting notes:
Nose: Barley and creamy oats first hit the nose with peaches, yellow plum and a dark chocolate brownie, vanilla fudge cake and spicy (and slightly burnt) ginger bread with caramelized sugars, butter and crushed nuts. As the whisky rests, the creamy vanilla develops with mild honey, almonds and fresh citrus (especially lemon and orange) and those citrus notes gradually brighten into lemon drops and the fresh spritz of peel alongside mild bourbon, crushed bittersweet petals, chocolate coated raisins, mild licorice and coconut coated rum balls. Then the whisky takes on a more consistent aroma – orange peel, dark chocolate, crushed Brazil nuts and anise seed with mild hints of vanilla. 

That barley is spectacular. Only beer makers or whisky distillers will appreciate this, and luckily I learned the craft from relatives while in Europe. The barley is oily and rich and it is in fact accentuated by the heavy wood notes. I can smell the cracked barley as it is removed from the boiler. 
Taste: The entry is silky smooth as the fruit suddenly emerges, crisp, tart and fresh. Yellow plum and orange peel in dark chocolate come to the fore with soft vanilla biscuits and a mild drizzle of honey. Then, at mid-palate, the magic happens. The palate begins to dry as the wood notes become increasingly dominant and interrupt the brief but tranquil start with richer cocoa, mild tanins and natural bitter vanillins. Nestled beneath the wood rests the slowly fading barley – oily, rich and wholesome with hints of crisp green fruit from the spirit.This is by no means a sweet whisky and it has no ripe fruit flavours; they are more crisp and tart with oily barley notes that shine until the gradually dominating wood overtakes it and makes a spectacle of its own on the finish. 


Finish: The finish is bitter and slightly spicy, with drying bitter cocoa and cascading wood notes that are softened by a medium-dry plummy note. 

Crisp, light yet full favoured and not dominated by bourbon 
This whisky was medium-dry on the palate. 

2 thoughts on “Glen Grant 16 Year Old

  1. Well done for this review of GG. You are one of the few who has not under rated this malt. GG is probably the most misunderstood whisky. I have done the flavour bomb thing but always end up going home to GG. Clean,fresh,unique. I have tasted hundreds of whiskies from the mundane to the majestic and GG 16 is a firm favourite. It creeps up on you. Because it is medium-light and can be easy drinking it is usual to misjudge this whisky. It rewards time and contemplation. It is intense and complex but in that special GG way. You only fully realise how very good it is when you switch to something else. You miss it. But why? The flavours are unique and the emphasis of the pleasure is different. There is a remarkable thistle down quality,a surprising strength and persistence through gentle,teasing strokes. The long remembered whisper. In comparative tastings GG loses out due to this gentle nature. The 16 is now discontinued. When i come across it i buy several. The replacement 18 is good. More assertive as is the modern way. Costs a whole heap more. I do not prefer it to the 16.

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