Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: Grant's Ale Cask Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky

Grant's Ale Cask Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky

Here's the concept:  After aging a blend of grain and malt whiskies in oak casks, move them to some casks that previously held strong Scottish beer.  Age for three additional months and what do you getAnswer:  Grant's Ale Cask Reserve

Beer?  Scotch?  Do they go together like coffee and cigarettes or like oil and water?  You be the judge . . .

Nose (undiluted)
Weak malty notes.  Apple juice!  Seriously, apple juice!  Just like the scent wafting up from my four year old's yellow plastic Winnie the Pooh cup!  Hops?  Maybe.  That being said, this is pleasing and very restrained.

Palate (undiluted)
Starts sweet, cantaloupe, apple juice that was betrayed on the nose comes to fruition on the palate.  Turning malty now and mid-palate there are some definite beer flavors coming into focus.

Finish (undiluted)
Very short hang time dude.  If you're riding that flavor wave, it's gone man in a flash.  What you ever so briefly experience is a taste of cereal, water and then the grainy/restrained alcohol wave chased by a weak puff of a Vantage cigarette you often can smell as you climb into the backseat of a dented, yellow New York cab.

General Impressions
This is very easy drinking.  Hell, it is tremendously easy drinking.  I mean there is nothing stopping you from chugging the whole bottle.  It just goes down so quickly.  In a flash it is gone and I am thinking "where was the flavor?"  So, I take another sip or should I say gulp in my quest for flavor.  Very light bodied, in the style of a Lowland malt. 

Price Point
Low price.  I did not pay a lot and frankly I did not get a lot.  I don't feel that I got ripped off, but rather a fair exchange.  I didn't shell out a lot and I did not get a lot in return.  A basic blended scotch on the lightly honeyed, apple cider side.  Simple, no complexity, but hey at the price I paid, I did not expect much.

There are two big flaws with this economy blended scotch whisky.  First, it is lacking in flavor.  As I mentioned above, it is so light and thin that you practically gulp the stuff down.  Secondly, it is grainy like the above photo.  Find that photo annoying and disconcerting?  The finish to this blend is much the same.

Targeted Consumer
If I had to guess, this whisky targets the most mainstream of consumers who place a premium on smooth, light flavors and low price point.  This is a good mixer for cocktails or for the guy who likes to load his drink up with lots of ice.

Not a horrible blended scotch.  Just mediocre with considerable graininess on the finish that can at times be bitter.  But, as the adage goes, you get what you pay for.  For me, I prefer a more robust flavor and so, I favor Teacher's Highland CreamWhite Horse and for those fans of the more smokey peaty variety, Black Bottle.

Peer Review
It's better than Bell's and Ballantine's, but lags behind Teacher's, White Horse and Black Bottle.

Final Analysis
Would I buy it again?  Ahh no.


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved.


  1. Enjoyed reading this one. I bought a bottle of Grants Family Reserve for a future review (if I feel up to it) and got one of those 50ml samples of the Grant's Ale Cask Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky attached to the bottle.

    It's like you said, one gulp and its gone, and then you have trouble figuring out what you tasted because it was so light. I think this does have a good home in a few cocktails though, so my opinion was perhaps a little higher than yours, then again opinions on a 50 ml sample or fragile, I think I will defer to your judgment.


  2. Chip, sometimes I find Grant's Ale Cask over the top grainy on the finish, and other times the graininess is not too bad. I think though it's light body makes it a fine component of mixed drinks. On that point I would defer to you as I tend to drink whisky neat.

  3. This is off subject but what do you think is a good start into the world of peat?

  4. Jay,

    As Jason said, Black Bottle is a great intro-amiable seaside character and persistent but mellow peat, and a small puff or two of smoke. Another peaty blend (peatiest of them all, as far as I'm awares...): Islay Mist. According to an email I got in response from Duggan's, the 8 yr expression is literally 50-55% Laphraoig (the entirety of the malt content!), the remainder being the grain whiskies. So when you get a taste for a bigger peat at the price of a cheap blend, give it a try.



  5. Introduction to Peat?

    Highland Park 12 Year Old! I have never failed to find a convert.

  6. Jason,

    Speaking of ale (well, Sort of), have you ever sampled any good Scottish ale? As of relative recent, I have embibed, was wondering your thoughts. Belhaven wee heavies and Skullsplitter are my go-to's for that particular craving. Tasty!

    Hope all's well.