Saturday, 17 March 2012

Grant's Whisky Masterclass and 12yo Launch

Samples of the twenty five whiskies which go into the Grant's 25yo

Thanks to Emma Barnitt from Weber Shandwick for inviting me to the Australian launch of Grant's 12yo whisky. An intimate group of whisky enthusiasts were invited to a masterclass with Grant's Global Ambassador Ludo.

Until recently I've been guilty of thinking that single malts are the only thing worth drinking in the whisky world. However, recent tastings and discussions with other members of DTWC has opened my eyes to the world of blended whisky.

Originally from France but now living in Scotland, Ludo has a wonderful hybrid accent. Certain words are are very French and then mid sentence he'll break into a broad Scot's accent. One of the most unusual mixes you are likely to here!

Ludo gave us a very interesting presentation on the history of Grant's and the process of how blended whisky is made. One of the facts I found surprising is that different whisky companies swap barrels to contribute to each others blends, rather than selling them.

I can imagine a bartering market would have worked well in years gone by, but long since ended as big multinational companies have moved into the whisky market. It's quite romantic to think such barrel swapping still takes place.

Tasting table, luxury nibbles and nosing references

During the evening we got to try five different Grant's whiskies. I'd previously sampled the newly launched Ale Cask ($40 per bottle) and Sherry Cask ($40 per bottle). The Ale Cask was just as good on a second tasting.

I asked Ludo what happened to the beer used to flavour the barrel once it had come out of the casks. Initially they used to throw it down the drain, but it is now sold on and available through Innis and Gunn. A beer I'd like to try sometime to see what effect the oak casks have.

I was slightly fearful of trying the  Family Reserve ($33 per bottle) after The Baron had been less than complimentary. However, it was perfectly pleasant, certainly not harsh or offensive as I'd potentially been expecting.

Ludovic Ducrocq, Grant's Global Brand Ambassador

We then moved onto the newly released Grant's 12 year old ($44 per bottle). It's a more complex and interesting blend. There's sweetness / vanilla and spices coming through with a long and mellow finish. It was a very enjoyable whisky and I was taken aback to learn it is only $44. I would have guessed the price would have been much higher in the $60-$70 range.

We were then treated to a taste of the extremely rare Grant's 25 year old. Grant's have only ever done one production run of the 25yo and supplies are very limited as a result. (You can only buy it in duty free in Australia.) It was fantastic to be able to smell, and in a couple of instances, taste the twenty five different whiskies which make up the blend. Certainly the best blend I've ever tasted and up there with one of the more enjoyable whiskies overall. At an eye watering $320 (duty free) I'm not sure I'll be sampling it ever again.

You can read The Baron's review of the evening over on the DTWC here.

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