The new Glen Grant Arboralis - Global Launch
It's always exciting to be apart of a new whisky launch, especially when Australia is the first region in the world to be selected for the launch of this new whisky. Must mean the Scots are beginning to notice that we really like our whisky here down under.
The Whisky List sat down earlier this week with Glen Grant's Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm (via virtual tasting) to chat about their latest new single malt release, The Glen Grant Arboralis, which has been created to celebrate the distillery's 180-year history.
Photo: Glen Grant's famous tall, slender stills with distinctive purifiers (top right cylindrical shape)
Who is Glen Grant:
Before I dive into the whisky, I want to highlight some very unique facts about Glen Grant distillery and it's current sitting Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm. Firstly, the "Grants" have been making scotch for 180 years. Through world wars, depressions, famine and now a global pandemic, Glen Grant has been continuously producing whisky non-stop and with recent technological advances means as Dennis excited informed us, the distillery has been able to operate around the clock, at full production with everyone performing appropriate social distancing and safety practice. It's fantastic to hear from Mr Malcolm that this distillery still keeps its people at the heart of production.
Founded in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant, in a little whisky producing town of Rothes, Speyside, Scotland, Glen Grants had everything they needed to get their little distillery up and running. The River Spey at their feet, surrounded by bountiful barley-growing farmland, all the ingredients of malt whisky close at hand. They were also far-sighted enough to realise that large-scale whisky production would flounder if transport links were not established, so they personally help fund additional rail links from Lossiemouth to Rothes. The quicker the barrels and bottles could be loaded up at sea, sooner they would get paid. A great advantage from the start and helps when one of our distillery founders James was an engineer by trade and also the Lord Provost (mayor) of Elgin.
Photo: Glen Grant still uses the traditional style of wooden washbacks in production
By 1872, the founders of Glen Grant Distillery had passed away. Young James ‘The Major’ Grant, just 25 at the time, had always taken a keen interest in the distillery, and having inherited the business and the title ‘Glen Grant’ from his uncle John Grant, intended to prove himself a worthy successor. The Major was is considered a legendary innovator, living by his own rules and set his own standards. New ideas fascinated him and he wasn’t afraid to explore them. He was the first man in the Highlands to own a car. Glen Grant was the first distillery to have electric lighting.
Most notably, it was The Major's introduction of tall slender stills which increase the copper surface significantly whilst distilling, and being fitted with distinctive purifiers, a specialist chambers in the lyne arm which act as a pre-condenser, refluxing back heavy elements which are carried down a purifier pipe into the body of the still. What all this means is you get one of the most delicate, fresh malty flavours in your new make spirit. Not only is James 'The Major' Grant being credited as one of the first to introduce this innovation to the distilling industry over a century ago, it's still used to this day.
Photo: Glen Grant's traditional dunnage warehouses used to age the tasty whisky
What's most interesting is at the time (remembering this was the late 19th century), the Major had designed a spirit that was very different from all it's competitors at the time. I remember distinctly tasting Glen Grant very early in my whisky journey many years ago and discovering that light and apple fresh character, which I believe defines Glen Grant whisky flavour profile. Short story was that the Major knew his customers were looking for an alternative to the heavy, assertive whiskies being made at the time, and strangely unlike many other whisky makers, he wasn't prepared to compromise by developing a blend. To this day, Glen Grant continues to be one of the biggest selling single malts worldwide.
The distillery consists of eight stills, uses the ten old style wooden washbacks in producing its wash, a fermentation time of 48 hours, with a production capacity of 6.2 Million Litres per year. Definitely worth a visit to tour the distillery once we can all travel again.
But today we're here to chat about their newest single malt, the Glen Grant Arboralis.
Photo: Inside one of Glen Grant's dunnage warehouses. Notice the barrels are sitting directly on exposed soil floors.
Introducing the new Glen Grant Arboralis:
Sitting down (via Zoom call) with Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm earlier this week, with a glass of Arboralis in hand was something quite special. Mr Malcolm is a legend himself in the whisky world. He was born at the distillery (it's true, ask him next time you see him), and has worked for The Glen Grant for 57 years, having started officially working at the wee age of 15 as an apprentice cooper. He has since gone on to follow in his family’s footsteps as his father and grandfather also worked at Glen Grant and now holds the title of Master Distiller. Mr Malcolm with his traditionally thick Scottish accent is everything you expect when you imagine a distillery. The man knowns his whisky, his passion for the job is captivating (the man has some amazing stories) and his unrivalled knowledge of the industry is next level.
Photo: Dennis Malcolm, Master Distiller of Glen Grant Distillery
We kicked off with an easy one asking Mr Malcolm, what is Arboralis? "Our new single malt in the Glen Grant range, the Arboralis is something very unique and I've had a great pleasure working with the team in crafting. A single malt created by marrying whisky aged in former ex-bourbon and Spanish sherry oak casks. We still use our traditional dunnage warehouses to age our casks."
After being encouraged by Mr Malcolm to sample Arboralis, we instantly on the nose got those signature Glen Grant fresh notes of apple, florals, mixed with dried raisins, a fun inviting aroma. On that first sip, that's when things got interesting. Oak, butterscotch and dried fruits dominate with vanilla, apple and a hint of spice rolling through, that's the sherry casks sneaking their influence in.
We joked with Mr Malcolm how easy it's to drink especially at 40% AVB, almost like water to which he laughs, "You're spot on with the sherry influence adding spice in there. It was really important when crafting this whisky it tells the story about the casks."
Asking about the age of the whisky used, Malcolm explained "Although this bottle has a no-age-statement (NAS), it does contain single malt whisky from casks generally aged between 5 and 10 years old. We decided to release it as a NAS simple to focus and showcase on the complex spirit itself and the balance it gets from using both types of oak casks."
Photo: Glen Grant's Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm taking us through the new Glen Grant Arboralis
Of course we had to ask, what does Arboralis mean? "Quite simply, light from within the trees” explained Malcolm, "this brightly coloured single malt has been designed to showcase our distiller's spirit and how flavour imparts while aging in oak." Adding “It’s particularly exciting to launch the product on the year of our 180th anniversary, to celebrate The Glen Grant’s heritage and inspire future generations of Scotch enthusiasts.” We couldn't agree more with you Dennis. What a legend and thank you for your time.
Now what's most exciting is the price. A well balanced fresh/floral Scottish single malt with malty influence, The Glen Grant Arboralis is available from liquor retail outlets for RRP $60.99. We have a few retailers already stocking Arboralis on The Whisky List here.
Photo: Glen Grant's Master gardens are perfect to take a stroll whilst sipping on some fine single malt scotch
Official Tasting Notes - Glen Grant Arboralis - 40% ABV - 700ml
Nurtured in traditional dunnage warehouses, Arboralis is an unmistakable tribute to the legendary Glen Grant flavour profile.
- Colour: Bright gold
- Aroma: Floral and fruity with dried raisins, honeysuckle, oaky malt notes and hints of lemon citrus
- Taste: Oak and butterscotch which merge with dried fruits, followed by a touch of light spice
- Finish: Long, with notes of malt, vanilla and pear
Take a 360-degree tour of Glen Grant Distillery
The Glen Grant Range
The complete Glen Grant range includes the refined The Major's Reserve, 5-Year-Old, Arboralis, 10-Year-Old, 12-Year-Old, 12-Year-Old Non-Chill-Filtered, Cask Haven, 15-Year-Old, 18-Year-Old and a selection of limited edition bottles; each with their own distinct flavour and aroma that perfectly captures the spirit of The Glen Grant’s heartland.
The Glen Grant became part of the Campari Group portfolio in 2006.
All photos supplied by Glen Grant and Campari Group.