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Every bottle of Glen Grant single malt is adorned with an image of the distillery’s founders. They were brothers James and John Grant of Morinsh. James was a politician who once took part in the Grant clan rising of 1820, while John was a known whisky smuggler who’s ponies carried barrels of illicit spirit across the hills and glens of the countryside around the famous River Spey.
When John Grant passed away in 1872, the family business was taken over by his nephew James, a man who would come to be known as The Major. James was just 25 years old when he inherited the distillery but his appetite for new ideas and technologies was already well known. Indeed, he was famed as the first man in the highlands to own a motor car. Under his stewardship, Glen Grant was updated and became the first distillery to install electrical lighting. Following his own design, he even replaced the pot stills, incorporating purifier pipes into his new vessels in order to increase reflux and create a lighter spirit.
Grant was said to be as at home on the plains of Africa as he was in the Glens of Scotland. A renowned socialiser, much of the distillery’s early success was due to his ability to charm clients from all over the world. At the time of his death in 1931, the Glen Grant single malt was to be found in the United States of America, Australia and even in his beloved Africa.
Following the Major’s passing, grandson George MacKessack took over the distillery and in 1952, he oversaw a merger with The Glenlivet that would eventually lead in 1978 to the distillery’s acquisition by Seagrams, a sale that would finally bring an end to any Grant family connection with the business.
For many years the Glen Grant single malt sold particularly well in Italy, and this eventually persuaded current owners Gruppo Campari to buy the distillery outright in 2006 for €115 million.
The Major’s Reserve is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume and retails in the UK for £20 – £25.
Smell: Fresh Fruit, Apple, Pear, Lemon, touch of Orange… Vanilla and Floral Heather Honey.
Taste: Caramel, Honey, Butterscotch, Toffee Apples and light Oaky Spices.
Thoughts: I confess that the idea of a Speyside malt, bottled at 40% doesn’t necessarily excite me but this stuff is decent enough and comes at a low price. There’s a sort of sophistication to Glen Grant’s flavour profile that some people love. For me it’s a little inoffensive and pedestrian but for £20 a bottle I wouldn’t be too disappointed. If you’re looking for an every day sipper that goes down easy and won’t cost a bomb, you could do a lot worse.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.