Bought: Waitrose, 11th November 2015
87/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
73.62/100 – Whiskybase (average from 15 member votes)
I must admit I did very little research into this single grain whisky by Girvan before buying it. I checked my copy of the Whisky Bible and 87/100 sounded perfectly acceptable to me. That categorises this dram as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying” so I did. The author, Jim Murray, describes this bottle as “a first look at probably the lightest of all Scotland grain whiskies. A little cream soda sweetens a soft, rather sweet, but spineless affair. The vanillas get a good unmolested outing too.”
Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like a “very good to excellent whisky” to me. Perhaps the score of 87/100 should have been 78/100! Sadly the only written reviews on Whiskybase are in German but 73.62/100 isn’t a brilliant mark. I know some people use grain whisky for cocktails or add a mixer to them but not when bottles cost £40 like this Girvan. Saying that, the Haig Club was originally £50 and that was designed to look good on a shelf in a cocktail bar. But if I spent £40 on a bottle of whisky, grain or not, I want to drink it au natural and have a good experience.
Perhaps disliking this bottle of Girvan is a German thing. The only video review I could find is the one below by Horst Luening, the master taster at Whisky.com. He admits he doesn’t usually like grain whiskies because they have a tendency to be bitter and tasteless. This is due to the overuse of casks, which can be refilled 10 times before being dispensed with. By the tenth time there is little or no flavour to be gained from the wood (sherry, bourbon, etc) other than tannins, which leave a bitter taste. I get his point but surely Girvan aren’t so stupid as to bottle something up from a 10th refill cask? You’d hope they’d have the sense to bottle from a fresh cask and send subsequent refills for blending. Has Horst prejudged I wonder?
You Tube review by Horst Luening: