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Every bottle of Glen Grant single malt is adorned with an image of the distillery’s founders, 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 famed 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 distilleries 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 Majors passing, grandson George MacKessack took over the distillery and in 1952, he oversaw a merger with The Glenlivet which would eventually lead in 1978 to the distilleries acquisition by Seagrams, a sale which 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.
Value for Money: No age statement Speyside whisky, when bottled at just 40% can sometimes prove a little disappointing in my opinion but the Major’s Reserve is a highly drinkable dram for such an affordable price.
There is a sophistication to the Glen Grant malt which few can match, though I must admit I tend to prefer a weightier mouthfeel myself. For what must be considered a bargain-basement price range however, this is a dram of undoubtedly high quality which is well worthy of further exploration.