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Grant's Family Reserve

Quality not consistency

1 1183

@NockReview by @Nock

2nd Oct 2013

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    83

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I picked up a bottle of Grant’s very reluctantly in 2005 after reading Jim Murray’s praise for the blend. I was very board by it at the time. But over the years I keep coming back to it (I always like to keep at least one blend around). My wife’s favorite drink is a Blood and Sand. Her favorite scotch for said cocktail is Lagavulin 16yo . . . which got old and expensive really fast! So I switched her to a blend. And the blend we keep coming back to is this bottle of Grant’s. Don’t be fooled: I have found dramatic batch variation – even in a blend! Some batches have more peat, some are more fruity. Personally, I prefer the ones with more peat (they can be more peaty then current batches of White Horse). My general score ranges from 82-85 over 6 different batches. I find that quite consistent in quality. Here are notes for an 83 score night.

Nose: Fruity on the front with peaches, apples, and pears at the fore. Then there is some creaminess with a bit of that grain smell and some apple cider vinegar. Butter, grain, and sweet malt linger in the background. It then shifts into a different gear with honey, vanilla, and a bit of smoke. Over all very enjoyable.

Taste: Soft and fruity with a creamy mouth feel with apples, pears and lemons. Limes, butter, grass, and honey. Pleasant sweetness that isn’t overly sweet but certainly sweeter then JW Black 12yo.

Finish: Lemon grassy with a bit of flair resolving into a nice low and slow burn. The waves are very low and come back to surprise you. Definitely delicate with a big pop of sweet sherry that resolves to honey. A little spicy kick with some malt, orange zest and a hint of smoked honey that fades to a medium finish (long for a blend)

Complexity, Balance: A very well balanced blend that mingles the grass, velvety butter, and citrus (limes, oranges, and a bit of lemon) together with a hint of sweet sherry. Quite complex in the nose with acceptable complexity on the taste, then back to better then average complexity on the finish. It is really well balanced across the board (nose to finish). Nothing really stands out, takes over, falls flat or is off.

Aesthetic experience: I love the price and the name. I don’t love the bottle shape or the red label. Nor do I like the 40% ABV. The consistency is all over the map on this one; some batches are smoky while others are fruity. However, it does stay consistently good for the money.

Conclusion: Really my staple blend I like to have around. I keep trying others, but for the money it is really hard to be the quality of Grant’s . . . maybe not the consistency . . . but the quality is always there.

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11 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nock , like you, the Grant's Family Reserve I have tasted has all been quite good. I do not doubt, though, that others have had experiences of bottles or batches of lesser quality than those which we have tasted.

What you and I have tasted is what I like to call "the universal solvent", because it tends to blend well with leftovers from whatever source.

I'll bet that if Grant's were sold at 60% ABV instead of 40% ABV that your score would be up around 90 points, instead of 83.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock commented

You are correct sir! I could only dream of such a thing. And even though this review was from over six years ago (and had several years of "Grant's experience" leading up to it) my opinion hasn't changed.

That said, I personally have not encountered a Grant's with any peat since this review. I am very sad about that.

I hear that Grant's is changing up their lineup. This old stand by reviewed is now gone and will be replaced with the Grant's Triple Wood. I could almost cry. My guess is that it will more or less be the same juice. BUT they will add a Grant's Triple Wood Smoky. I am very excited to see what that is about.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nock say it ain't so! I hate to see the discontinuation of my favourite inexpensive Scottish blended whisky. Are you putting up a handle or two of Grant's Family Reserve while it is still on the shelves? I may have to buy some myself, because I do not trust renamed whiskies to be just like the stuff I used to like.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor & @Nock - I also like Grant's and as far as a budget blend in the UK goes, you can't go far wrong.

Not heard about any discontinuation and the shelves are still stocked this end. That said, they have been putting out more and more finished whiskys so who knows. Shame though, if that is the case.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC that is interesting that Grant's stocks are still strong in England. Here in my county in Maryland Grant's is on sale now. That could mean nothing...but it is the strong pattern here that every large market release that is being discontinued goes on sale here to clear it out. Those sales usually time out to several months in advance of the final disappearance of the products from the shelves.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - I've just had a look at a couple of big UK supermarket websites and whilst they do still stock the standard Grants they also sell the Triple Wood so . . .

We tend to shop online these days but when I do go into a supermarket I usually make a point of passing by the whisky isles and had always noticed Grant's there. I'll keep an eye on this and get back if I hear anything - you may well be right though.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock commented

I am certain that this will disappear off the shelf. My guess is that it will take another year or two for all the Grant's Family Reserve to be totally replaced. I currently have a 3/4 full 750mL bottle open. I am not sure if I will try to stock up on a handle or two . . . or not. This seems like one I am tempted to simply ride along the changes with. I am really excited to try the smoky version.

Further, I also use about 95% of my Grant's family reserve in a mixture way. I am either using it in a cocktail where I am adding a touch of Laphroaig 10yo or I am making a bastard blend where I use 50% Grant's and 50% heels (many of which have smoke). I only drink Grant's Family Reserve straight when I am giving a tasting to total newbies, or when I am really trying to prime my palate before a "soft-tasting" night. When I taste softer whiskies (something with no peat in the 40% - 43% range) I find that I really need a reference point so that I don't judge them too harshly.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nock I have been holding off on stocking up on Grant's too. Too many bottles are floating around this house already. And, as you say, I will probably have a good while to change my mind before they all disappear.

about one year ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

Well, it has only taken about 5 months, but it looks like Virginia is starting to clear out the old Grant's Family reserve. I just picked up 3 bottles at half price ($9.99 each) yesterday. Is that stocking up? It almost feels like I should have bought more. Sadly, I also gambled on a 1.75L bottle of the Famous Grouse Smoky Black. It is not good. I should have put the money into more Grant's. I imagine it will take me some time to go through the Famous Grouse. Thankfully, I will still have plenty of Grant's when that is all gone.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@Nock - I've not seen the Family Reserve for ages, only the TW.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@RianC seems fairly ubiquitous here. Still working on my first 200 cc bottle. Purchased in 2011.

about one year ago 0

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