Five Grain Whiskies and a Blended Malt

Last February I reviewed a Girvan, of which I had gotten a sample in Fiddlers’ Advent Calendar. Contrary to what I expected, I really loved it and even got myself a bottle.

Teun van Wel, of Maltstock fame, saw my ‘this is the exception to the rule’ style of post and must have have thought to change my beliefs.

Two very different angles of Teun thinking ‘this will not stand’.

Anyway, I reviewed them sometime during the summer holidays, and then completely forgot where I put the list. Luckily Teun kept a copy of what he sent, or else I wouldn’t have been able to make any sense of this post.

To whom it may concern:

Grain whisky is the style of whisky that makes up blended whiskies, together with malt whisky. Generally grain whisky is seen, and used, as a rather industrial product. It is produced in distilleries that look more like an oil refinery than what you’ve come to see as a distillery. Also, it is distilled to a much higher ABV (90+%) and needs much longer aging if you want it to be good as a single grain whisky.

The Relaxed Malt 18, 2001-2020, Sherry Butt, 46.2% – Boogieman Import

Image from Whiskybase

Not overly sweet and quite like a malt whisky, lots of grains, and a more dry oak than expected. Cherries and blackberries, dry wheat ears.

The palate is also very dry with white pepper, some red fruits although it’s slightly more bitter. Cherry stones, less ripe blackberries.

The finish is largely similar, a bit more peppery and still very dry.

A tad simple, but rather tasty. It some how tastes like your ‘stroking’ an ear of wheat the wrong way. Of course it is not a grain whisky at all, but Teun snuck it in there anyway.


Carsebridge 46, 1973-2019, Ex-Sherry Butt, 57.1% – Thompson Brothers

Image from Whiskybase

Typical grain whisky with lots of sweetness, a whiff of glue, and wine gums. A lot of vanilla, wood and sap. A bit of maple syrup too.

The palate is quite fierce, with some alcohol heat that tastes like chili. Sweet, again, with grainy sugar, wine gums, and more chili pepper.

The finish mellows quickly with the slightly biting dryness of the palate lingering the longest.

This is where we get into grain whisky territory, and this is generally why I dislike them. It’s all very sweet, and adding a sherry cask to something that I generally think too sweet already doesn’t work for me.


Girvan 29, 1991-2020, Bourbon Barrel, 56.5% – Watt Whisky

Image from Whiskybase

Full on sweet wine gums and grain sugar. Pound cake, icing sugar, butter cream. Vanilla cheese cake.

Slightly dry and more grainy, white pepper and oak shavings. Still quite sweet but more cake like, instead of wine gums.

The finish continues with the same flavors as the palate, although the sweet and the dry seem further apart.

Out of balance, and a tad inconsistent. Not bad, though. Interestingly, I had already tried this before and rated it quite a bit higher than I did this time around. Just goes to tell that (at least me) tasting whisky is very subjective. It does surprise me a bit though. Generally I’m a bit more consistent. Maybe too many variables changed? Setting, weather, ‘nasal conditioning’…


Cambus 26, 1993-2019, Sherry Butt 48094, 55.4% – James Eadie

Image from Whiskybase

Massive hints of sherry, leathery with dried prunes. Lots of grainy sweetness, not surprisingly.

Quite smooth, with a bit of a bitter note. Prune stones, with dry oak. Dusty tree bark, the sweetness is still here, but overpowered by other flavors.

Here the balance between bitterness and sweetness is restored. Still some leathery notes too, and more focus on the dried fruits.

This whisky from the last year the distillery was operational has a of sweetness, but in this case the sherry casks brings more bitterness, which I like.


Invergordon 31, 1987-2020, Oloroso Sherry Butt, 52.8% – Dramfool

Image from Whiskybase

Vanilla ice cream and malt shake. It veers towards wine gums and peaches afterwards, but the vanilla stays.

The palate adds a peppery bite, not completely surprising. It stays with the vanilla sweetness, some caramel too. Malt shake again, maybe some root beer too.

The finish is a lot sweeter again, some dry pepper and fresh tree bark. Vanilla, peach, caramel.

For a sherry cask, this had quite a lot of vanilla all the way through. The creaminess was also a bit surprising, but not completely unpleasant at all.


Invergordon 32, 1988-2020, Brandy Butt, 50.1% – Electric Coo Series

Image from Whiskybase

This could very well be a wine cask. Red fruit, tannins, grape stems and seeds. Some thin milk chocolate notes too.

The palate is a tad flat at first, but some dryness and astringency builds up after a while. The flavors never get very pronounced though.

More of the dryness follows, with a hint of rancio on the finish.

I have no idea what this is. And that’s the friendly way of putting this. A weird jumble of flavors without any balance. This is, I guess, where the brandy butt comes in. I had no idea what to make of this one but it tries to be everywhere at the same time. Not my cup of tea at all!


Let’s just say I’m not convinced. Some grain whiskies I don’t mind, some I do. Even fewer I really love, and it doesn’t all have to do with age, as we say with these early vintages here.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
This entry was posted in - Blended Malt, - Grain Whisky, Cambus, Carsebridge, Girvan, Invergordon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Five Grain Whiskies and a Blended Malt

  1. Teun van Wel says:

    mooi hoe smaken verschillen 😉 ik vind die Carsbridge echt top em die James Eadie zeer matig.

    Teun van Wel +31-644.642.602

    the relaxed whisky weekend



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