Advent Day 14: 1988 Girvan 25 y.o. (A.D. Rattray)

127Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 14 – December 14th

1988 Girvan 25 y.o. (A.D. Rattray)

Cask #79184 Lowland Grain Whisky

55.4% abv

Score:  89/100


A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition.

The first Girvan I ever tried was a knee-buckling 45 year old from Clan Denny.  Part of the magic of that dram was the circumstances under which it was drunk, but there’s no discounting the fact that what was in the bottle was just really, really good.  I’ve never found another grain that quite measured up, in fact.

Just to be forthright…I don’t generally get excited about grain whiskies.  It’s a style that takes a back seat for me, much like Canadian whiskies or bourbons.  To me these aren’t much more than blend components that are being used for novelty one-off bottlings.  I know that’s not necessarily the case, but I also know that the care and due diligence that goes into malt production is not the same approach that is embraced in the volume, volume, volume production of grain whisky.  Malts cater to the connoisseur.  Grains cater to the blend industry.  C’est la vie.

Having said that, that special 1965 Girvan resonated so strongly with me that I do actively seek out whiskies with this name on the bottle.  I’ve not yet found a comparable version, but I’ve also not been disappointed by any I’ve tried.

Let’s consider that enough preamble and investigate the wee bottle behind door number 14 of the Secret Spirits advent calendar.

This 1988 is a single cask from A.D. Rattray.  And it’s pretty much exactly what I’d expect.  Spicy and bracing.  The wood influence is enormous.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it should be noted, especially if this is a new style for you.  Tasted blind, I’d be liable to say this was either mature grain or mature rye.

Nose:  Like a nice old rye.  Very creamy vanilla and a touch of coconut.  Cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg.  Cedar, eucalyptus and lumberyard.  Good bread dough.  Oatmeal raisin cookies.

Palate:  Big arrival.  Fresh woods.  Eucalyptus and lumberyard again.  Like orange and maraschino cherry sprinkled with cinnamon and sawdust.  Lemon polish.  A very sinus-clearing dram.  Juicier than expected from this style.

Thoughts:  If only more grains tasted like this, I’d maybe occasionally reach for one.  Not my favorite style of whisky, but there’s no arguing with quality.  This is a fine dram.  Big appeal for fans of bourbons and ryes too.

Bonus:  My mate, Jonathan, and I are gonna blog on these drams side by side through the season.  Here’s a link to his notes on the same whisky at


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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