I was recently out for a drink with an elderly friend of mine at a wonderful pub in the Yorkshire Dales. The sky had just bruised over and we were hungry, after a bracing walk down an old railway track just south of the Wensleydale cheese factory. So to a local hostelry we retired and a warming nook, with the prospect of homemade steak pie and big chips. What better way to start the evening.
As our conversation developed, my friend went on to tell me just how much he loved our location, because it hadn't changed very much at all since his childhood- perhaps mellowing with time, but resisting modernisation and 'high street blandness'. It suddenly got me thinking about a very special whisky I had recently tried- certainly an elder statesman but refined and similarly untainted by the rigours of time and progress.
Glen Grant Ancient Reserve - Distilled 1951- bottled 2004 by Gordon & MacPhail - 40% - 70 cl
Nose: Candle wax, fresh mint and strawberries topped with a slight earthiness or musty wine cellar aroma. Very delicate hints of almonds and cereal also follow. Subtle and sublime.
Palate: An oaky dryness as expected with a whisky at this age, but then bags of mouth- watering flavour come through: hints of liquorice, pepper and a slight aftertaste of star anise and more cereal. A really wonderful mouth feel which coats every tastebud. Minute touches of sherry but only feint. Fruity, with more of that strawberry and a little menthol on the death.
Finish: Really long, developing into salted liquorice, more wood (this time cedar) and a tiny bit of sweetness. The oak is still present but this is still on the right side of flavour-some vs over-age.
Overall: A fine old gent, still very much with all its faculties before the ravages of oaky old age catch up with it. There are really pleasing similarities with the well balanced Glen Grant notes you find with the recent fantastic Bluehanger vatting.
Special thanks to WillieJJJ for his generosity with such a fine whisky.