Grants Family Reserve Review

Grants Family Reserve

40% abv

Score:  70/100


A review a couple of years in the offing.  For no other reason than a slightly traumatizing first meet and compromised first impression (if ever we raise a glass together I’ll fill you in).  I like to think that by this point I am coming in with no bias, but who knows what residual shudders are still going on up in that mass of gray matter.  The subconscious is a tricky beast.

So…from what I understand (unsubstantiated rumor, at best, but seems plausible)…dash of ‘Fiddich…splash of Balvenie…couple others in smaller proportion…and a heaping helping o’ grains to prop it up.  Correct me if I am hearing wrong.

What we end up with is…(drum roll)…a blend.  No more.  No less.  Certainly not great, but neither is it offensive.

The nose is malty and grain-rich.  Slightly feinty and just barely staying afoot under the weight of caramel, mashy notes and a dense cloudy homogeneity.  A wee lot of peat as well.  If I’m to be truly honest…this is why blends get a bad rep.  This is simply boring and lifeless.  Hunting for individual fruit notes and such is nearly a lost cause.  I know they must be there.  Water would normally open a whisky up and allow some of those lighter notes to blossom, but as this is only at 40% out of the bottle…if you have to add water…what’s the point?

A mouthful yields more of that weighty maltiness.  Sweet barley and dull caramel.  Only here do we begin to get hints of what may be dried fruits.  The finish…meh.


Comment:  Yet another one where JM is off his f’n rocker


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

9 thoughts on “Grants Family Reserve Review

  1. Capn Jimbo's Rum Project

    Personal taste is a funny thing, and no one should be criticized for expressing their own opinion. Here’s the problem: should the reader assume his or her preferences are the same as yours, or should they take note of the consensus, which includes leading reviewers such as Dave Broom, Jim Murray and Ralfy – all of whom find the Family Reserve more than competent, complex, young yes, but very well done. Indeed Chicago’s respected Beverage Tasting Institute called it a “Best Buy”.

    It is. At the Project we too agree, and were both pleased and impressed by this one. I’m afraid to say that we all have a tendency to discount lower priced blends unfairly. I urge all readers to take a chance on this one. BTW Grant’s is one of few remaining family owned distilleries which produces a goodly number of fine single malts, as well as their own fine grain whisky – a fact that no doubt accounts for the good quality of this blend.

    No other low-priced blend comes even close – but of course, that’s just our opinion. Cheers!

    1. ATW Post author

      No. The reader should not assume his or her preferences are the same as mine. That would just be silly, wouldn’t it? You know as well as I do that the reader should check out a bunch of reviews on the site to see if our palates even remotely line up (at least on tasting notes, as scores are contentious, to say the least), then check other resources to see what others have said about the whisky. As you’ve obviously done.

      While I love Dave Broom and Ralfy, I do not necessarily agree with all of their notes either (…and that’s ok! That’s what makes this fun). As for Jim Murray…well…I am neither one of his adherents nor a basher, but I absolutely question a huge chunk of his scores and reviews. I won’t get deeper into that one here.

      I’ll counter your urging readers to take a chance on it with cautioning them against dropping money on something that should be buried in a cocktail. And this is coming from someone who does not mix whisky. Ever.

      I wonder why you say we discount lower priced blends ‘unfairly’, while at the same time trumpeting purity as the gospel on The Rum Project. These blends are heavily colored, watered down and chill-filtered. They are produced in volume to be inoffensive and appeal to the widest demographic. As soon as a producer takes that approach, they have to shave off the flavour outlyers that provide contrast, in order to create homogenous, chuggable milquetoast.

      If you want to get pished, or drink your whisky with soda or something…by all means, Grant’s. If you want true flavour and an understanding of the heights that whisky can reach…nearly ANY single malt will slay this. Sorry, but it’s true. 9.5 times out of ten…low end blends suck.

      1. Fred

        Bad form, Sir. CJRP crafted a polite, informative and helpful post encouraging readers to seek a consensus before writing off this blend. Your response, on the other hand, was just rude and condescending.

        1. ATW Post author

          Evening, Fred. There is nothing rude or condescending. Calling it as I see it. As Jimbo does. And really? You’re defending the same guy who has made his name by outwardly bashing anyone and everyone with a contrary opinion? I own Liquorature as well, where he proceeded to levy fucktard comments at a mate of mine. It’s truly a shame. He is an articulate, smart individual, but his behaviour is boorish at best.

          1. Fred

            Thanks for the reply ATW. It appears that there’s some history between you two and, I have to admit, I haven’t followed either of your blogs enough to pick up on that. I stumbled upon this review and fashioned my post based solely on this one exchange. I happen to enjoy Grant’s for what it is and felt that Jimbo’s post was the fairer of the two. Just my opinion, no defense of Jimbo intended, warranted or not.

          2. ATW Post author

            Hi, Fred. Not so much that there’s history between us, but I have no respect for anyone who makes his name by dragging others down. A visit to his forum will show anyone how outwardly aggressive he is in his attacks. While some of the criticism is warranted, the personal side of it is not. The truly frustrating part is that he Is a smart man who can draw arguments and would have me on his side most of the time if not for the sniping. Oh well.

          3. Jeff

            Just curious, Fred – although I fully understand enjoying something for what it is, that’s also usually in the context of acknowledging what it is not, so what would you score Grants out of 100, and how would that compare to the scores of some other whiskies?

    2. Collegiate

      Grants isn’t awful. In fact, of the many blends I have tried it has to be one of the best. But a blend can’t touch most, if not all SM, although I had someone once trying to convince me that Grants is just as good as Glenlivet (I suspect he has never tried Nadurra). But one thing I was finding with blends is that in an evening I would drink far more quantity wise. It would turn in to an evening of getting drunk, rather than reflection and contemplation of a fine malt. So, although a blend is vastly cheaper that a SM, I realized I was drinking far more of it and also doing a lot more damage to my liver. So is it really cheaper to drink a blend?
      I would argue no.

      I heard it said somewhere recently – drink less, drink better. Words to live by. Stick to the single malts.

      1. Jeff

        I agree with the points made, particularly about contemplation; I don’t find myself thinking so much about the whisky (usually because there just isn’t that much there), so my thoughts turn to the makers of the blend and “what were THEY thinking” – not necessarily in a bad way, but what, if anything, were they trying to achieve here? Along those lines, Black Bull 12 is still a mystery: good enough neat and high ABV, a step up from most blends but priced like a single malt (which, like Blue or Gold Label, doesn’t suit it for cocktail fodder) and still really not all that edgy in terms of flavour. I just don’t see the niche.


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