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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glen Grant Scotch and my Scottish Dad

Scott’s Scotch Corner:

In my office I have two cabinets, one filled with single malt Scotch whiskys that I refere to as my everyday drinking scotches. The other cabinet holds my ever growing rare Scotch collection. These bottles are held in reserve for those special occasions like zero year birthdays and anniversaries. I justify keeping them around because of their growing value as collectors items like this $250,000 bottle. Jaden is not sold on the whole Scotch collecting idea yet, despite my attempts to assure her they truly are liquid assets.

When she ventures a taste of what ever I’m drinking, I am inundated with comments of “This taste like gasoline and turpentine mixed together” or  questions of “How can you drink that stuff?” While Scotch whisky may be intimidating to the novice, once past the initial burning phase they open up to a whole world of complexities comparable to wines. Deep aromas, subtle flavors and regional variations in environment all impact on the flavors of Scotch.

I first started drinking Scotch over 20 years ago. My 21st birthday happen to fall during our Spring Break Concert Tour. A few of my friends and few local host took me to a well regarded drinking establishment in Bismarck, North Dakota. By the way, someone should have pointed out to our promoters that Spring does not come to North Dakota till some time after the first week of March. We all saddled up to the bar and after much hoopla from my friends and hostesses about it being my first legal to drink birthday, the bartender asked what I wanted. I never thought about what my first drink would be. I didn’t ponder for hours what beverage with alcohol would be the first to cross my lips. I just did what I suppose most 21 year old men do. I blurted out “I’ll have a whiskie!” I swear I saw the bartender roll his eyes with disgust. Another naive newby was trying to order a drink. He glared back and asked in a cold tone that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, “And what kind of whisky would that be? Bourbon, Tennessee, Scotch?”

After the moment of total embarrassment passed, my mind grasped at the first tangible thought it could. My dad’s Scottish, and I’m half Scottish, then I should have Scotch. It made perfect sense in my mind. With new found confidence I fired back “I’ll have a Scotch on the rocks!” The bartender went about his business and returned with my drink a little later. After a few cheers from my friends, down the hatch went my first drink.

And yes, it tasted like gasoline.

I told my dad that story some twenties years later. We laughed and then shared a great conversation about his glory days when he used to drink Scotch and play bagpipes in an award winning band in Rochester New York. He recounted to me yet again how he had acquired his Boer War warpipes and how they played a little louder than the rest of his bandmates.  He mentioned that his favorite Scotch of the time was Glen Grant and how he enjoyed a wee dram back in the days. And we laughed at  how “wee dram” is Scottish for small glass filled multiple times.

Last December I had stopped by a local store to pick up a bottle of Scotch for a friend when I happened to spy a bottle of 10 year Glen Grant. I had never seen it there before nor have I seen it in stock since. I bought it and gave it to my dad for Christmas. After the Christmas rush passed, we shared a wee dram in my office. I had not heard of Glen Grant before, so my dad explained how he liked the deep golden color that reminded him of my mom’s hair. The slightly sweet start that finished in a very dry hint of floral and herbal notes. He lit up as he talked about it. It was warming, much like the drink itself. It was a softer side on my father that I didn’t get to see often. After we finished I placed the cork back in the bottle and placed it with my other drinking scotches. Little did I know that it would be the last drink I shared with my dad.

My father passed away last month. Although I flew to New York several times in the weeks before his passing, his declining health prevented us from sharing more moments like that.

As I recall that moment with my father, I feel I should move the Glen Grant over to my collectors cabinet. I’m not ready to finish the bottle nor am I ready to say farewell to my dad.

 



14 Responses to “Glen Grant Scotch and my Scottish Dad”

  1. Pragyan — 5/27/12 @ 10:45 am

    Very touching …

  2. Cristina — 5/27/12 @ 11:29 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful memory to share, and a lovely tribute to your father.

  3. Tess — 5/27/12 @ 8:24 pm

    Love this…Yes, Scotch is an acquired taste… My Dad liked Cutty… I love JWBlack… When my Dad was living, he enjoyed blessing me with my choice for holidays & birthdays! Have never tried the one you pic, but am certain it has a personality all its own!! “Liquid Assets” Nice!

    • Tess — 5/27/12 @ 8:27 pm

      Sorry, I just finished your article… and am very sorry for your loss… However, you have great memories & a great bottle of Special Scotch!!!

  4. Sheila Foley — 5/27/12 @ 9:00 pm

    Very sweet post…

  5. Chris — 5/28/12 @ 2:14 pm

    A very poignant tribute. I know he must have been as proud of you as you are of him.

    Glen Grant just became invaluable.

  6. Kim in MD — 5/29/12 @ 9:05 am

    Wow…your post brought tears to my eyes. I agree that you should move that bottle of Glen Grant to your collectors cabinet. I am so sorry for your loss, Scott.

    On a lighter note- I agree with Jaden about whiskey in general- yuck! I cook with it, but I can’t drink it!

  7. Elen Grey — 5/29/12 @ 5:16 pm

    This is not only a marvelous post on whisky, but a wonderful tribute to your father, Scott. I’m sorry for your loss.

  8. SB — 6/1/12 @ 1:39 am

    Scott,

    That was very touching story. I know it’s a bit neurotic, but as a born and raised NoDaker, I must correct you. It’s Bismarck with a C.

    Enjoy your Scotch,
    sb

  9. Scotia — 6/2/12 @ 3:28 am

    Oh my, what a lovely tribute to your father. The last chances of communication are the best, even if you don’t know they are the last, aren’t they? Every time you touch or look at that bottle you will think of your dad.

    Here’s a little bit of a song from Brian McNeill about his uncle:

    For he’s the best o’ the barley, cream o’ the crop
    Easy on the water and I’ll tell you when to stop
    Would you please charge your glasses with the real pure drop
    And drink tae the best o’ the barley…

  10. Jen da purse Ho — 6/2/12 @ 5:14 am

    Sorry about the loss of your father.

    This post was so touching and informative at the same time. :)
    my bf is a scotch lover. I’ll have to show this to him and ask him his thoughts and feelings about it. :)

    big hugs.

  11. Brandon — 6/4/12 @ 5:17 am

    Great touching story.

  12. Susan — 6/9/12 @ 8:33 pm

    Scott,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful memory of your father with us. I am so sorry for the grief and loss you are experiencing. Thankfully as humans, we have the ability to remember and keep our loved ones with us that way. I’m sure each time you enjoy a scotch, you will think of your father and raise a toast to him.
    May your warm memories of this wonderful man sustain you.

  13. Gerald — 12/27/12 @ 9:33 pm

    Hi, Scott,
    It is through Googling a special collection of Glen Grant that I chanced upon your beautiful posting about GG amidst recollections of your father. I’m sorry for your loss and I really admire you having such a father to share so much with you, including his special love for GG.
    Being someone who can’t be more distant in root from Scotland but nevertheless a staunch fan of GG, I have to admit there isn’t a great collection of this SM here in Toronto, Canada. However, I managed to bring a couple back every time I travel abroad – June in Rome and October in Hong Kong, and am looking forward to some from online suppliers.
    Your description of what you dad said about GG is classic and quintessential, better than I can ever put into words – the lingering and mystic flavor of Glen Grant.

    Gerald

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