SpiritsThe Collection

The Glen Grant’s 70-year-old Devotion defies the odds of age

The Glen Grant’s Devotion is a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and a rarity at 70-years-old. It’s also a mark of the Scotch whisky distillery’s skill at straddling a gamut of single malt age statements, says Joel Harrison

Words by Joel Harrison

glen grant devotion whisky in display decanter
The Collection

There are few single malt Scotch whisky distilleries that, through their own distinct production style, can create a spirit that works well as both a young, lithe whisky, and a seriously old, aged single malt. In fact, in the canon of Scottish single malt production there is only one example of a whisky so well made it is seen in proprietary bottlings as both a 5-year-old and, now, as a 70-year-old.

We’re talking about The Glen Grant following its latest release, Devotion. This 70-year-old bottling, distilled in 1953 and released in tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, will become the oldest ever single malt from the distillery in its 180-year history and makes the gap in age between its liquids even more pronounced.

This multi-generational difference would be impossible to achieve for most distilleries. The majority are producing spirits that demand a decade or more in cask to mature; nearly all lack the extra-aged whisky stocks that are more than 50 years old.

The Glen Grant's Speyside distillery backs onto the purpose-built 'Garden of Splendours'

Nestled in the heart of the famous Speyside region and the oldest in the town of Rothes, The Glen Grant distillery was purpose-built by brothers John and James Grant in 1840. By 1872, heir James ‘The Major’ Grant, a charismatic innovator and adventurous traveller, inherited the business. It was The Major’s explorations across the world, taking his whisky with him, that laid the foundation for both the global success of The Glen Grant’s single malt and triggered the development of an outstanding 27-acre ‘Garden of Splendours’ hidden behind the distillery buildings.

Today, The Glen Grant is guided by Dennis Malcolm OBE, the longest-serving master distiller in Scotland. He drives the tall, slender pot stills at the distillery, all fitted with unique water-cooling purifiers, to create a spirit that is agile, supple and uncommon in its ability to find maturity across all of whisky’s age spectrum.

master distillery dennis malcolm draws glen grant 70-years-old whisky from cask
Master distiller Dennis Malcolm OBE draws Devotion's rare liquid from the barrel

Take, for example The Glen Grant 5-year-old. Few whiskies are mature enough to drink at such a young age. Yet the unique copper pot stills at The Glen Grant turn themselves into fountains of youth, crafting a spirit that, after a short stint in great oak casks, can boast complexity of flavour despite a youthful age.

Another mark of an excellent distillate is one that can be long-matured and yet maintain the distillery’s character. We see a shining example of this in The Glen Grant’s latest release. Its 70-year-old Devotion bottling puts The Glen Grant into an elite club of single malt distilleries able to release a whisky of such great age under its own label. The whisky has been matured in a single French oak butt seasoned with Oloroso sherry and it retains a remarkably lively alcohol-by-volume of 55.5%.

Glen grant 70-years-old devotion whisky
The seven decanters for Devotion feature unique engravings that showcase the late Queen's favourite flowers

Master distiller Malcolm has worked with award-winning craftsman John Galvin and hot glass master Brodie Nairn of Glasstorm to produce seven hand-blown decanters, each presented in a wooden halo handcrafted from an elm tree that once stood in the Major’s Garden of Splendours. Each piece incorporates seven facets celebrating each decade of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, featuring a silver capsule engraved with a floral design showcasing Her Majesty’s favourite flowers. The first decanter boasts a unique engraving of The Queen Elizabeth Rose.

In honour of the late Queen’s passion for woodland regeneration, particularly Scotland’s native forests, the first decanter (‘Number One’) will be auctioned by Sotheby’s. An online sale will run from 11 September to 22 September 2023, with 100% of the proceeds, estimated at £70,000-110,000, donated to the Royal Scottish Forestry Society, for which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was patron.

glen grant devotion decanter being crafter from wood
Designer John Galvin has crafted a decorative halo for each whisky, whittled from an elm on The Glen Grant estate

Following the auction of decanter Number One,  the remaining six decanters will be made available for sale from October 2023, with prices available upon request. Each of the six individual decanters will feature a different floral engraving, and one will be made available in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, China and Japan respectively.

This 70-year-old single malt is a true elixir; one that defies age, yet through maturity pays homage to a life of devotion.